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Stay on Possession Proceedings – Extended until 20 September 2020

As the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has continued, the Government announced on 21 August 2020 that the stay on possession proceedings under Practice Direction 51Z and CPR 55.29, which was due to expire on 23 August 2020, was to be extended by a further four weeks until 20 September 2020.

As we approach 20 September 2020, we will be on hand to assist landlords who have outstanding possession proceedings which are subject to the stay under Practice Direction 51Z and CPR 55.29 with what comes next. Keep an eye on our website for further updates in relation to the requirements to be met to reinstate claims, to be published in due course.

New Notice Periods

In the meantime, on 29 August 2020, the Government brought into force the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (‘the Regulations’). The Regulations amend the Coronavirus Act 2020 (‘the Act’), which has been in force since March 2020, with effect from 29 August 2020. The amendments extend the notice that must be given to tenants before possession proceedings may be commenced in many circumstances from 3 months to 6 months (section 81 and Schedule 29 of the Act (as amended)).

The new 6-month notice period applies to most notices and tenancies with a few exceptions (see below). This means that landlords will now have to wait 6 months in most circumstances before commencing possession proceedings.

 

Extension to “Relevant Period”

When the Act first came into force the extended notice period only applied to notices served during the “relevant period” (26 March 2020 to 30 September 2020). The Act contained a reserved power to alter the 3-month notice period and extend the ‘relevant period’. The relevant period has been extended to 31 March 2021 so that the new notice periods which came into effect on 29 August 2020 will apply to notices served until 31 March 2021.

 

Deemed Service Cut Off Point

Thankfully, the amendments to the Act are not retrospective. Therefore, any notices already sent out and ‘deemed’ served on and before 28 August 2020, will not need to be re-served as a result of the amendments. However, notices ‘deemed’ served on and after 29 August 2020 are caught by the changes. These will need to be re-served giving the new notice period and using the new prescribed form which was published on 2 September 2020.

 

Landlords should calculate the deemed day of service of any notices served close to the cut-off date (29 August 2020) to ascertain whether these need to be re-served or not.

 

New Notice Periods

Our interpretation of the new notice requirements is outlined below.

 

Secure Tenancies

  • Ground 1 only (where rent arrears are 6 months or more) – 4 weeks
  • Ground 2 (nuisance and anti-social behaviour) – No notice
  • Ground 2ZA (riot), 2A (domestic violence) or 5 (false statement) – 4 weeks (where no other ground except for ground 1 is relied upon)
  • All other grounds – 6 months

 

Assured Tenancies

  • Grounds 1-6, 9 (suitable alternative accommodation), 12 (breach of tenancy), 13 (property condition), 15 or 16 – 6 months
  • Grounds 8, 10 or 11 (rent arrears) – where rent arrears of less than 6 months’ are outstanding at the date of service of the notice – 6 months
  • Grounds 8, 10 or 11 (rent arrears) – where rent arrears of 6 months’ or more are outstanding at the date of service of the notice and provided no other ground is relied upon – 4 weeks
  • Ground 7A (mandatory anti-social behaviour) – 1 month
  • Grounds 7 (after death of a tenant) and 7B (no right to rent) – 3 months
  • Ground 14 (nuisance and anti-social behaviour) – No notice
  • Grounds 14A (domestic violence), 14ZA (riot) or 17 (false representation) and no other grounds relied upon – 2 weeks

 

Assured Shorthold Tenancies

  • Section 21 Notices – 6 months

 

Contractual Tenancies

  • Notices to Quit – 28 days

 

Please note that the above is a brief outline of our understanding of the Act and should not be relied on in place of detailed legal advice on a case-by-case basis, particularly given the regularity of the changes being made. Landlords should get in touch for further information, help and advice.

Correct at time of drafting

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