If you are a landlord and have outstanding possession proceedings which were subject to the stay under Practice Direction 51Z and CPR 55.29 (‘the stay’) you may be wondering what comes next following expiry of the stay on 20 September 2020. This briefing note details how landlords can reinstate their possession claims and what requirements you need to comply with.
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020, the Government brought into force Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 which extended the minimum notice period that needed to be given to residential tenants of secure and assured tenancies before possession proceedings could be commenced. The Government also implemented a “stay” on possession proceedings and stopped bailiffs from executing warrants for possession.
Since then, there have been various modifications to the temporary restrictions including amendments to the notice periods, the lifting of the “stay” on possession proceedings and the restoration of evictions.
However, now, as of 1 October 2021, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2021 (‘the 2021 Regulations’) has come into effect. Landlords will be glad to hear that the extended notice periods no longer apply. Notice periods will revert to those that applied before the pandemic.
Landlords should note that the 2021 Regulations extends the effect of the Coronavirus Act 2020 until at least 25 March 2022 allowing the Government to amend notice periods further in the future, if it becomes necessary.
Updated Notice Periods
Landlords will recall that some notice periods had already reverted back to the pre-pandemic position earlier this year (e.g. for assured tenancies: Grounds 7A and 14).
Landlords should carefully check the relevant Acts before serving notices on their tenants. However, by way of an example grounds commonly relied on by landlords will now have the following notice periods:
- Secure Tenancies – Ground 1, Housing Act 1985, Schedule 1 (rent arrears or breach of tenancy) – 4 weeks
- Assured Tenancies – Ground 8, Housing Act 1988, Schedule 2 (serious rent arrears) – 2 weeks
- Assured Shorthold Tenancies – Section 21, Housing Act 1988 (no fault possession) – 2 months
The 2021 Regulations are not retrospective. Landlords should check that they have inserted the correct notice period in relation to any notices already sent out and ‘deemed’ served before 1 October 2021. If shorter notice was prematurely inserted before the 2021 Regulations came into effect, these notices may need to be re-served.
Updated Prescribed Forms
For any notices served on and after 1 October 2021, there are new prescribed forms which must be used. These prescribed forms can be found here:
- Form 3 (Section 8 Housing Act 1988 for assured tenancies)
- Form 6A (Section 21 Housing Act 1988 for assured shorthold tenancies)
- Secure fixed term tenancies (Section 83 Housing Act 1985)
When serving notices on Form 3 or Form 6A it is also recommended that landlords enclose a copy of the relevant “notes” for landlords and tenants which can be found in the links above.
If in doubt, landlords should contact the Property Disputes team on 01753 876 800 for further information, help and advice on a case by case basis.
Correct at time of drafting
4 October 2021