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Government brings in further measures to stop evictions under Coronavirus Act 2020

21 Sep 2020

Landlords have been further prevented from taking eviction action against their residential tenants under recent measures brought in by the Government.

If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant, under the Housing Act 1988 they must serve either a section 8 or section 21 notice. Under the Government’s new measures, for notices served between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020, the minimum notice period that had to be given to tenants was three months. Now that notice period has been extended to six months, unless exceptions apply (such as anti-social behaviour), for notices served between 29 August 2020 and 31 March 2021.

All existing possession claims have been suspended until 20 September 2020, and after that time the Courts are expected to start listing their backlog of possession claims.

Landlords’ statutory repairing obligations remain in full effect, however a delay in carrying out the work required may be justifiable if it has been caused by lockdown and quarantine rules. Landlords are best advised to keep full records of all efforts they are making to carry out repairs and reasons for delay.

This will come as disappointing news for landlords who need to recover their properties from their tenants, as even where tenants are at fault such as longstanding arrears of rent a Landlord is prevented from issuing a possession claim until at least March 2021 if they serve notice now. The Government is seeking to prevent widescale eviction of tenants who find themselves in the unfortunate position of being unable to pay their rent as a result of job loss or being furloughed during the pandemic.

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Farmers who own rented property or have employees who rent their property from them under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy will be affected by the new rules if they wish to seek possession of their property from the tenant. These rules however don’t apply to Agricultural Tenancies which farm workers sometimes enjoy, and which are more difficult for the property owner to terminate.

If you are concerned about evicting your tenant or need advice on the type of tenancy they may have, and how to end it, you should seek legal advice. The rules are often changing, and the current timescales could be subject to further extension, depending on how the national situation during the pandemic develops.

For further information, please get in touch with Sara Malik on 0191 227 6696 or at sara.malik@hay-kilner.co.uk.