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Amendments to the Coronavirus Act 2020 – further restrictions for residential tenancies

09 Dec 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force in September and contains important updates for any residential landlord considering possession action against their tenants.

The notice periods provided by the Regulations will remain in place in England for all notices given to tenants up to and including 31 March 2021.

For notices given under s.21 of the Housing Act 1988, the notice period that can be given to tenants is now six months, and a claim needs to be issued at court within ten months of the date of service of the notice.

For notices given under s.8 of the Housing Act 1988 the notice periods vary depending on the grounds specified in the notice. For the key breaches related to Rent Arrears the notice period depends on the time over which arrears have accrued:

  • Where the tenant is in arrears of six months’ rent or more, the notice period is four weeks;
  • Where the tenant is in arrears of less than six months’ rent, the notice period is six months

The time period for arrears of six months’ rent or more is significantly shorter than the alternative notice period and somewhat addresses the imbalance of previous pandemic measures landlords may have felt was weighted heavily towards tenants.

In addition, landlords who had already issued possession claims prior to the pandemic measures being put in place will already be aware that the Courts imposed a general stay on those claims, suspending any action being taken by them until further notice. The stay ended on 20 September 2020 and landlords in those claims are required to serve a reactivation notice on the court confirming that they would like the case to be listed for a possession hearing or referred to a judge for directions. The reactivation notice must:

  • set out what the landlord knows about the effect of the pandemic on the tenant and their dependants; and
  • be accompanied by an updated rent account for the previous two years if the claim is based on rent arrears.

The reactivation notice must be served:

  • if a trial date was set, no less than 42 days before the hearing, or
  • in any case, before 4pm on 29 January 2021.

If a landlord misses the deadlines for serving a reactivation notice, the court will stay the claim and the landlord will need to apply to have the stay lifted.

For further information, and to find out how we can help, please contact Sara Malik.