Posted On / 08.02.2021

Landlord and Tenant Updates 2021

There is currently a ban on Bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) enforcing Possession Orders at residential properties except in the most serious of cases such as for extreme antisocial behaviour and where there are more than 6 months of rent arrears.  However Landlords are not prevented from serving Notices on Tenants and bringing possession claims in the County Court if the Tenants do not leave.  The courts are granting Possession Orders ordering Tenants to leave.   The difficulty in getting your property back arises if the Tenant refuses to leave the property on the date ordered by the court.

The ban on enforcement is currently in place until 31 May 2021 which means that eviction appointments cannot take place earlier than 14 June 2021 as Bailiffs and HCEOs need to give the Tenants at least 14 days’ notice of their eviction date.

The starting point to getting your property back is by serving a Notice on the Tenant.  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

For all new tenancies created from 1 July 2020 it has been a legal requirement to have an electrical safety inspection carried out by a qualified person and a copy of the report given to the Tenant before they move in.  For tenancies that existed before 1 July 2020, Landlords must now ensure that an electrical safety inspection is carried out and the report given to the Tenant no later than 1 April 2021.  The inspection must comply with 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 each time.  A new tenancy should not begin until this has been complied with. There are hefty penalties that may be imposed on Landlords by their Council for failing to do this.

Breathing Space

On 4 May 2021 the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) will come into force.   If they qualify, this puts a hold on all debt chasing and will be open to people in debt who want to try and come up with a payment plan without the pressure of creditors chasing them.  This will include landlords pursuing Tenants in a Breathing Space.  Landlords will not be allowed to contact Tenants direct to discuss or demand rent arrears or take any enforcement action to recover the debt, including possession.  The Breathing Space will provide the debtor 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 which will be only available to people who are receiving mental health crisis treatment and who are in debt.  This Breathing Space has some stronger protections than the standard one and it lasts for as long as the debtor’s mental health crisis treatment does, plus 30 days.

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 all of the tenants.  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.

For more information contact Jacqui Swann on 01935 846254 or jacqui.swann@battens.co.uk.

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