Residential Evictions Changes From 1st June
The Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, last week announced that from 1st June, the notice periods for termination of tenancies will reduce to 4 months instead of the current 6 months. This was an emergency measure put in place during the pandemic which meant that before starting possession proceedings, landlords have to give 6 months’ notice to tenants. As before notice periods for serious cases will remain the same. As a reminder they are:
- Anti-social behaviour - immediate to 4 weeks’ notice
- Domestic abuse in the social sector - 2 to 4 weeks’ notice
- False statement - 2 to 4 weeks’ notice
- Over 4 months’ accumulated rent arrears - 4 weeks’ notice
- Breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ - 2 weeks’ notice
- Death of a tenant - 2 months’ notice
As of 1st August, for cases where there are four or more months of unpaid rent, the notice period will reduce from 4 months to 2 months bringing this back in line with pre-covid requirements.
The ban on bailiff enforcement that came into place at the beginning of the pandemic will end on 31st May. However, bailiffs cannot carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating. There is also a fourteen-day notice requirement before an eviction can take place. Therefore, we do not anticipate any evictions to take place until at least mid-June, except in the most serious circumstances.
While it is clear some notice periods are reducing, as part of a phased-out approach of the Coronavirus Regulations, there are no plans to see them back to pre-pandemic periods until at least October.
Breathing Space Scheme
From 4th May, The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 come into force. This new regulation is designed for any person trying to seek some relief from debt. In relation to property, there are 2 types of breathing space a tenant could be accepted for. Firstly, a standard breathing space will last for a maximum of 60 days. Secondly, a mental health crisis breathing space which ends 30 days after the tenant’s treatment finishes. Once a Breathing Space has started, no enforcement action can take place against the debtor or anyone who is jointly liable with them for a Breathing Space debt.
If a tenant has successfully applied for a Breathing Space and has included rent arrears in their application, then the landlord will be notified by the Insolvency Service. In these limited circumstances, it means:
- Landlords and agents must put on hold any action they are taking concerning the rent arrears (including court action) for as long as the Breathing Space lasts.
- A Section 8 notice cannot be issued for rent arrears (grounds 8,10 & 11) but can on any other available grounds.
If agents and landlords are made aware that their tenant has applied under these regulations they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss their options for receiving and managing notifications.
Any Section 8 notices issued and served on a tenant from 4th May must now include details of the Breathing Space Scheme and Section 8 notices issued with an out-of-date form will be invalid.
If you need any advice on the above matters or anything related to residential property, please feel free to call, I am always happy to help.