The latest Government support for renters as national COVID-19 restrictions ease

A recent Government announcement has clarified new rules that aim to support renters as national COVID-19 restrictions ease. Broadly, the Government will return notice periods to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October 2021 but there will be a transitional period from 1 June 2021.

Section 21 Notices

From 1 June until 1 October 2021, in the case of Section 21 Notices (under the Housing Act 1988), 4 months' notice must be given (reduced from 6 months'). The period in which proceedings can be issued is revised to 8 months' from service of the notice.

Section 8 Notices

In the case of Section 8 Notices (under the Housing Act 1988), notice periods for the most serious cases will remain lower but where the notice is served on the basis of rent arrears (Grounds 8, 10 and 11):

a. where there are less than 4 months' rent unpaid the notice period will be:

  • four months' notice; unless
  •  it is served after 1 August 2021, in which case it will be two months' notice.

b. where the above does not apply, four weeks' notice.

In many cases a 4 month notice period will apply in respect of Rent Act notices to quit, introductory tenancies and demoted tenancies under the Housing Act 1996, and secure tenancies under the Housing Act 1985, although there are specific notice periods for certain circumstances, so the full changes must be considered where any of these tenancies exist.

New prescribed forms

With effect from 1 June 2021, new prescribed forms of Section 21 and Section 8 notices must be used. These will make reference to the new 'Breathing Space' regulations and the new notice periods. Notices served or deemed served after 1 June 2021 must be in the new prescribed form. Failure to do so will result in an invalid notice being served and could result in a possession claim being dismissed. The changes also amend the form of notice to be used in relation to secure tenancies.

Evictions and Court proceedings

The current ban on evictions ended on 31 May 2021 but tenants must be given 14 days’ notice before an eviction can take place. The Government has confirmed that Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving fraud or anti-social behaviour.

Future developments

We expect to see a Government White Paper in the autumn which will set out proposals, including those for the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. We will eagerly await that White Paper.

See the Government's web page Support for renters continues with longer notice periods - GOV.UK for full details of the changes detailed in this article.

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