Possession Proceedings: not over yet

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Residential Tenancies

The Government announced on 12 May 2021 further changes in relation to residential possession proceedings.

Regulations have since been made to give effect to the announcement and has again amended the required notice to be given when the landlord serves notice pursuant to Section 8 and Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to evict residential tenants.

From 1 June 2021 to 30 September 2021, if a landlord wants to serve a section 21 notice to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy, they need to give the tenant a minimum of four months’ notice prior to commencing possession proceedings. The claim will then need to be issued at court within eight months from the date the notice was served on the tenant.

If a landlord were to serve a Section 8 notice between 1 June 2021 and 31 July 2021 when the rent arrears are less than six months (relying on grounds 8, 10 and 11 in relation to rent arrears), the landlord would be required to give the tenant no less than four months’ notice.

If the landlord serves notice as above between 1 August 2021 and 30 September 2021 when the rent arrears are less than six months, they would need to give a minimum of two months’ notice prior to starting possession proceedings.

If there are more than four months of rent arrears at the date of serving the section 8 notice between 1 June 2021 until 30 September 2021, the landlord will be required to give the tenant a minimum of four weeks’ notice prior to starting possession proceedings.

Subject to Public Health advice and the Road Map out of the pandemic, it is hoped that the notice periods required by sections 8 and section 21 will return to pre-pandemic lengths from 1 October 2021.

From 31 May 2021, bailiffs are able to execute possession orders in the usual manner unless the tenants have covid-19 symptoms.  There is of course the risk that tenants who may not want to leave the property may seek to take advantage of and abuse this caveat.

Due to the varying notice periods that have been in force over the last 12 to 16 months, we recommend that landlords or agents should seek advice on the validity of the notice prior to commencing possession proceedings.

Commercial

The Government announced on 16 June 2020 that the restrictions imposed on landlords in respect of forfeiture of commercial tenancies were being extended from 30 June 2021 to 25 March 2022. Other measures were also announced including the restriction on pursuing commercial rent arrears recovery and the ability to serve statutory demands and winding up petitions were also extended to 25 March 2022 and 30 September 2021 respectively.  However, landlords are still able to pursue tenants for rent arrears in the usual way by making money claims through the courts.

Here to Help

If you need advice on possession proceedings, please contact Hayley Grantham, Solicitor specialising in Property Litigation or John Wagstaffe, Partner and Head of Property Litigation.

Please note the contents of this article are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.