From 1 October 2021 Section 21 and Section 8 Notice periods reverted back to pre-pandemic timescales in England. But what does this return to pre-pandemic timescales for residential tenancy notice periods mean exactly for private tenants and their landlords?
Stephanie Whitchurch, a Partner at Tallents Solicitors explains the changes in more detail.
During the pandemic, many people were unable to work and therefore pay their rent, so the government introduced a moratorium on evictions and increased the period of notice that landlords were required to give to tenants to six months, except in certain serious cases.
As life started to return to normal, this notice period was reduced to four months, with further exceptions in certain cases. Now that residential tenancy notice period is returning to pre-pandemic levels and landlords will be able to progress possession claims through the courts once again.
For tenants, this reversion of residential tenancy notice periods means that the minimum notice period for Section 21 notices will revert to two months and the notice period for Section 8 notices relying on Grounds 8, 10 and 11 (rent arrears) will revert to two weeks (different notice periods will apply to Section 8 notices relying on other Grounds).
If you’re a tenant and still struggling with rental payments, then we recommend you speak to your landlord at the earliest opportunity but you should still continue to pay rent and abide by the terms of your tenancy to the best of your ability.
Depending on your circumstances, for tenants in arrears it may be appropriate to apply for either a standard Breathing Space Moratorium or a Mental Health Crisis Moratorium to try and prevent an eviction proceeding for rent arrears for up to 60 days (or 30 days after mental health treatment) by speaking to a local authority or authorised debt adviser.
Legislation preventing bailiff enforcement of evictions has also now expired and orders can be enforced where the landlord has a valid warrant of possession. However, bailiffs must provide the tenant with 14 days’ notice of an eviction and still cannot carry it out if they are made aware of anyone living in the property who has COVID-19 symptoms or who is self-isolating.
The government has also published a new Form 3 for Section 8 notices and Form 6A for Section 21 notices, which also come into force from 1 October 2021. Landlords and agents should be careful to use the new forms when serving notice as the courts may reject notices which have been served using the wrong version of the form.
Are commercial leases affected?
These are not affected by these changes and protection for commercial tenants remains in place until 25 March 2022.
Although life is returning to normal, it will be a while before some people return to pre-pandemic income levels. As such, landlords may want to be flexible, exercise caution and consider eviction on a case by case basis. With clear communication, a payment plan could be agreed upon that both parties can adhere to. However, where a landlord needs to take action, the shorter notice periods now permit that to be taken more swiftly.
Landlord or tenant? Contact us if you have any questions
Tallents Solicitors is here to answer any questions that landlords or tenants may have about the changes. Just call 01636 671881 to speak to a solicitor in confidence about your situation.