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3 October 2020

Coronavirus: An update on advice for landlords

This article provides an update to private sector landlords on how the recent changes in legislation affect them.

Change to the notice procedures

In March 2020 the Government introduced the Coronavirus Act 2020 which set out a number of temporary measures to help protect renters from being forced out of their home. The provisions of the Act meant that a landlord serving a notice under Section 8 or 21 of the Housing Act 1988 had to provide at least 3 months’ notice of the intention to seek possession. This notice period under both Section 8 and 21 has now been extended; with effect from 29 August, 2020 landlords serving notice of the intention to seek possession must provide tenants with 6 months’ notice. Although this notice period does not apply with a notice under Section 8 where the tenant is in more than 6 months’ arrears, in which case tenants must be provided with 4 weeks’ notice. A landlord now has 4 months in which to issue a claim for possession after expiry of a Section 21 notice.

Notices issued between 26 March and 28 August 2020 are unaffected by this change and remain valid, although a landlord relying on a Section 21 notice served between 26 March and 28 August must commence a possession claim within 3 months after the expiry of the notice.

New Possession Claims

The stay on new possession proceedings which was announced in March expired on 20 September 2020 meaning that landlords are now able to progress their possession claim through the courts. Priority is being given to the most serious cases and claims issued prior to the stay in March.

When issuing a claim, Landlords are now also required to provide the court with any information in relation to how the tenant has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and judges are able to adjourn proceedings if this is not provided.

If a claim was brought before 3 August 2020, landlords will need to provide the tenant and the Court with a reactivation notice which informs both that they still intend to seek repossession.

Evictions

From 21 September 2020 notices of evictions can be delivered. Bailiffs will be provided with guidance that they are unable to enforce possession orders where local public health protection measures are in place, for example where local restrictions on entering premises have been introduced by the Government.

Mortgage Holiday

The Financial Conduct Authority confirmed on 2 June 2020 that landlords could apply for an extension to any mortgage payment holiday already taken and that new applications can be made up until 31 October 2020. Landlords should apply to their lender directly for any holiday.

If you would like to speak to a member of the team to discuss how the changes in Coronavirus legislation changes affect you as a landlord, please contact our Residential Landlord and Tenant Disputes team on disputes@steeleslaw.co.uk or call 01603 598000 to speak with a member of the team.

*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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