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Notice periods revert for residential landlords seeking possession

View profile for Amelia Ford
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October sees a major milestone in notice periods for residential tenancies where landlords are seeking possession, as they revert to pre-pandemic requirements.  The time during the pandemic has been tough for both landlords and tenants alike, with many landlords having to be flexible on their rental payments, having a subsequent impact on their own mortgage and financial situation.  While we are moving back towards pre-Covid times, landlords are still being warned to review the guidance before taking action, as some protections for tenants may need to be reinstated.  Amelia Ford, Paralegal Apprentice in our Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, explains more here about the next stages in possession requirements and how landlords can prepare for the coming months.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies and Covid-19

As of 1 October 2021, the Government has confirmed that notice periods for Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies will revert to pre-pandemic requirements.  This suspension of the emergency legislation affects Section 8 and Section 21 notices, where landlords are seeking possession of a property.

Since 1 June 2021, most possession notices have required landlords to give a minimum of four months’ notice if they serve either a Section 21 or a Section 8 notice, except in some specific cases of anti-social behaviour and rent arrears. 

From October, the notice periods for Section 8 Notices will revert to the pre-pandemic notice periods, which vary depending on the grounds on which notice is served, and for Section 21 Notices, the notice period will revert to at least two months’ notice.  New prescribed forms must be used for both Section 8 and Section 21 Notices from 1 October 2021.

A statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reflects this, saying the measures may be re-implemented if the public health situation worsens again, as the legislation which imposed the extended notice periods will remain in force until March 2022 and this is a suspension of, not an end to the emergency legislation. 

What are the notice periods for seeking possession in residential tenancies?

  • Section 21 or Section 8 on grounds 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 or 16 – two months but not before the end of the fixed term.
  • Section 8 on grounds 8, 10 or 11 on grounds of rent arrears – two weeks.
  • Section 8 on grounds 3, 4, 7b, 12, 13, 14A, 15 or 17 – two weeks.
  • Section 8 on ground 7a, which is for anti-social behaviour with a conviction - one calendar month.
  • Section 8 on ground 14, which is for anti-social behaviour- immediately after the notice counts as served, usually 24 hours.

What’s the difference between Section 8 and Section 21 Notices?

Depending on what has happened during the tenancy will impact on which type of Notice is applicable.

A Section 8 Notice is used where the tenant is at fault and is either as a result of the tenant breaching their tenancy or acting in an inappropriate way, which will effect others in the surrounding areas. The most common kind of Section 8 Notice is for rent arrears and if the tenant is 2 months+ in rent arrears this is a mandatory ground (Ground 8) for eviction. However, the full grounds for S.8, which are listed above, can be found in the Housing Act 1988.

A Section 21 Notice is a “no fault” eviction process. This means that the tenant has done nothing wrong but the landlord now wants the property back. Usually, this is because the landlord is looking to sell the property or move into the property. However, the landlord is unable to use a Section 21 Notice where the tenant has lived at the property for less than 4 months and will only be able to used the Section 21 at the end of the terms of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or during a periodic tenancy.

The landlord will also need to prove that they have supplied the tenant with the prescribed documents and protected the deposit. If they do not do this, the Section 21 Notice may be invalid. Furthermore, if the property is in disrepair, and the landlord has received notice from the council they will not be able to use a Section 21 to evict a tenant.

“It is important that residential landlords make sure they give the right period of notice and use the correct form,” explains Amelia.  “There is no back-dating for notices served before 1 October, so any action taken before October will continue to be under the notice periods in force at that time.  While this sees a relaxation of the emergency legislation, if there’s a tough winter in economic terms, or a further surge in Covid-19, there is every chance that the extended notice periods will be re-introduced, so it’s very important to double-check before taking action in the coming months.”

As a landlord, we know you will be looking for answers to your questions that protects your finances and your property, as well as being fair to your tenants, particularly during the last 18 months of economic uncertainty.  You can discuss your situation with us by contacting Amelia or the team on 023 8071 7429 or emailing ameliaford@warnergoodman.co.uk.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.