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Guidance for residential landlords amid COVID-19 changes

15 March 2021 | Richard Gore

The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into effect on 26 March 2020. It substantially affects the ability of landlords to recover possession. However, some deadlines will expire at the end of March and it is important that landlords are prepared. Head of Dispute Resolution Richard Gore, and solicitor Holly Snook provide guidance for residential landlords amid COVID-19 changes.

Notice Periods

From 26 March 2020 until 31 March 2021, in England and Wales, in order to protect residential tenants from eviction, notice periods given to residential tenants requiring vacant possession of a property (for certain tenancies) have been extended, and from 29 August 2020, landlords were required to give at least 6 months notice. 

What can a landlord do?

  • Landlords can start proceedings in situations where 3-month Section 8 and 21 notices were served between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020 and have now expired.
  • Whilst the majority of notices require 6 months, shorter notice periods will apply in certain important exceptions involving rent arrears of at least 6 months, the death of the former tenant, criminal convictions, antisocial behaviour, domestic abuse or fraud.
  • Landlords should “start the clock” by serving an appropriate notice at the earliest opportunity and ensure that proceedings are commenced where notice periods have expired.

Evictions

The residential evictions ban has now been extended to 31 May 2021. 

The announcement means that private landlords will need to continue to give their tenants six months’ notice before they can repossess properties.  However, shorter notice periods will still apply in the case of antisocial behaviour (4 weeks notice), false statements provided by the tenant (2-4 weeks notice), breach of immigration rules under the ‘Right to Rent’ policy (3 months notice) and over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice).

Debt recovery

The CVA 2020 does not prevent landlords from pursuing other claims, such as debt claims in respect of the non-payment of rent.

Due to the difficulties in complying with social distancing requirements, enforcement agents are prohibited from taking control of goods inside residential properties in England during the period of lockdown.

Specialist legal advice for commercial landlords

In every instance, it is recommended that before landlords and tenants take any action, they seek advice as to the options available in their specific situation.  

If your clients are experiencing difficulties and would like advice about how to best navigate any of these aspects, our Dispute Resolution legal team is on hand to help. Please call: Call 0117 906 9400 or email hello@gl.law

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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