Landlord and Tenant Updates 2021
As you may know, there is currently a bar on bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers enforcing Possession Orders at residential dwellings except in the most serious of matters such as for extreme anti-social behaviour. However, landlords are not prevented from serving notices and bringing possession claims and the courts are granting Possession Orders which many tenants and leave when ordered to do so. The difficulty in getting your property back arises at the moment when the tenant refuses to leave on the date ordered by the court.
The bar on enforcement is currently in place until 31 March 2021 which means that eviction appointments cannot take place earlier than 14 April 2021 as bailiffs and HCEOs need to give the tenants at least 14 days’ notice of their intention to evict them.
The starting point to getting your property back is by serving a relevant notice and the current notice periods are:
- Section 21 – 6 months.
- Section 8 for rent arrears of under 6 months – 6 months.
- Section 8 for rent arrears of over 6 months – 4 weeks.
- Section 8 Notices for antisocial behaviour – a claim may be brought the same day.
If the tenants do not vacate the property after the notice expires, then a claim must be brought in the county court to obtain a Possession Order.
Electrical Safety in Residential Properties
From 1 April 2021, all tenants of residential properties must be given an electrical safety report. This must be based on an inspection by a qualified person that took place within the last 3 years because the electrical installations must meet the safety standards set out in the 2018 edition of the IET Wiring Regulations. This must be repeated every 5 years and the reports provided to the tenant. A new tenancy cannot begin until the inspection has been carried out and a valid Report is in place. There are hefty penalties that may be imposed by the local authority for failing to do this.
On 4 May 2021 the Debt Respite Scheme (breathing space) will come into force. This will be open to tenants and if they qualify and enter a breathing space, creditors (including landlords) are not allowed to contact them directly to chase for rent arrears or take any enforcement action to recover the debt including possession. The breathing space will provide the tenant with a 2-month moratorium in order to try and resolve their debt issues. They are being encouraged to pay rent in this time.
There will also be a mental health crisis breathing space for people suffering from mental health issues and are in debt with more flexible arrangements in place.
Where there is a joint tenancy, if one of the tenants enters into a breathing space, then that will place a moratorium on the debts for the whole tenancy. Section 21 Notices may continue to be served on someone in a breathing space and Section 8 Notices may continue to be served as long as they are not in relation to rent arrears. Where there is a guarantor on a tenancy, you are not prevented from contacting them while a tenant is in a breathing space.
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