Residential Tenancies

30th March 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on 26 March 2020. 

Section 81 and Schedule 26 of the Act gives emergency provisions in relation to residential tenancies such as ASTs during this Coronavirus pandemic. 

Any Section 21 Notice (there is a new one) and any Section 8 Notice given to a tenant between now and 30 September 2020 must give the tenant at least 3 months’ notice of your intention to evict them.  This is regardless of any provision in the tenancy agreement or the law existing at the time the AST was entered into.

Prior to this, Section 21 had provided 2 months’ notice and Section 8, depending on the ground being used, but for Grounds 8, 10 and 11 in relation to rent arrears, it was just 2 weeks.

The intention was, and the Government announced this, that no tenant could be evicted for 3 months for being unable to pay their rent because of the Coronavirus.

However, the courts have taken this a giant leap forward by placing a blanket ban on housing possession proceedings for 90 days.  It does not matter if the claim is already in court, a possession order has been made or a bailiff’s appointment has been requested.  Nothing will move in the courts now in relation to housing possessions until the end of 3 months and there is a possibility that this will be extended depending on the progress of the Coronavirus. 

So, where there were grounds for possession long before the Coronavirus affected this country, those claims are also being put on hold.  

We have heard rumours of tenants and letting agents telling landlords that rent is not payable to them for 3 months.  There is a suggestion that there is an automatic rent payment holiday for tenants.  This is not the case.  Rent remains due.  The Government is hoping that mortgage payment holidays open to landlords of buy to let properties will alleviate some of the pressure imposed on them by tenants not being able to pay rent.  However, whatever rent or mortgage payment holiday that may be agreed, rest assured it is payable either at the end of the term or by additional payments made on top of instalment payments later in the contract term.

The feeling is that come the end of the ban on possession proceedings by Public Health England it will result in a build-up of approximately 25,000 possession claims and no doubt the courts and the bailiffs will not be able to deal with all of these for a significant amount of time.    

For more information on this and any residential tenancy issue please call: 

Jacqui Swann on 01935 846254 or e-mail at jacqui.swann@battens.co.uk