Residential tenancies – ban on evictions ends
By Nicola Grant
Chartered Legal Executive
Bailiff enforced evictions of residential tenants from privately rented accommodation have been banned throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the unprecedented financial impact of the pandemic on renters, many of whom will have been furloughed or will have lost their jobs since the first lockdown in March 2020.
That ban came to an end on 31 May 2021, meaning that landlords are now able to start to enforce evictions with effect from 1 June 2021. The end of the eviction ban is likely to result in a large number of eviction notices being served upon tenants by landlords who have obtained possession orders granted by from the court over the course of the pandemic. As 14 days’ notice is required in all but the most serious of cases, the reality is likely to be that evictions will commence in mid-June, with tenants being served with eviction notices from 1 June.
Pre-pandemic, a landlord requiring possession of a property was required to serve two months’ notice upon a tenant on “no fault” grounds, by way of service of a Section 21 Notice upon the tenant, or between two weeks and two months’ notice, depending on the reason for the eviction (including rent arrears and anti-social behaviour), by service of a Section 8 Notice upon the tenant. Those notice periods were amended during the pandemic so that six months’ notice was required to be given, and, importantly, there was a total ban of evictions taking place, except in the most serious cases involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse, whether or not any notice period had expired.
Not only has the ban on residential evictions ended as of 31 May 2021, but the period of notice required to be given by a landlord requiring possession of a property decreases from six months to four months for the period between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021, at which time it is expected that notice periods will return to the pre-pandemic levels. The exceptions to the four-month notice period are, again, the most serious cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic violence, together with cases involving “serious rent arrears” of more than four months, in which case four weeks’ notice is required to be given. Note also that from 1 August 2021, the notice period required to be given in cases involving less than four months’ rent arrears will decrease from four months to two months.
It should also be noted that the courts are reported to have a significant backlog of residential possession and eviction cases, brought about by the pandemic, increased notice periods and eviction ban, and that this is likely to result in delays in such cases being processed by the courts, hearings taking place and possession orders being granted. This can only have a knock-on effect on bailiff-enforced evictions, where the courts were already stretched to capacity pre-pandemic.
The above being said, it is going to be extremely important that landlords obtain accurate and specialist advice when serving notice upon tenants to ensure that the correct notice is served and that the appropriate notice is given. Failure to provide the correct notice will result in the notice being invalid and the landlord having to start the entire process again. Due to the complexity of this area of law, and the potential for things to go wrong if matters are not dealt with properly, landlords should always seek proper advice from the outset and, we advise, consider the instruction of an appropriate specialist to act on their behalf in providing notice and making the appropriate court applications thereafter. At Chubb Bulleid, we are able to guide you through the process from start to finish. Please contact one of our specialists on 01749 836100…