Coronavirus Act and Residential Tenancy Agreements
COVID-19 has had an extraordinary effect on the UK economy; forcing schools and businesses to close and leaving many out of work. The Government has therefore enacted measured to help those individuals who may be financially disadvantaged under the Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”). One of those measures is changes to the recovery of possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement “AST” during 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 (“the Relevant Period”).
Section 21 Notices:
Schedule 29 (7) of the Act provides that any notices for recovery of possession under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 during the Relevant Period, shall now give the tenant three months’ notice, rather than the previously accepted two months.
Section 8 Notices:
Schedule 29 (6) of the Act also provides that notices for recovery of possession under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, which allows a landlord to obtain possession during the contractual term on fault grounds, shall also now provide the tenants with three months’ notice during the Relevant Period.
Can possession notices still be served?
The Act does not prevent notices being served by a landlord on their tenant during the Relevant Period, rather the extended notice periods must apply.
Notices served before 26 March 2020:
Any notices validly served prior to 26 March 2020 giving the previously applicable notice periods will still be deemed to be effective and are enforceable. However, following a decision by the Master of the Rolls with the Lord Chancellor’s agreement the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in the system or any about to go in to it can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted.
Financial Relief for Landlords and Tenants:
Tenants are still liable for their rent and they should pay this as usual, however if they are facing financial hardship they may be eligible for housing benefit and/or universal credit to assist them in the current climate.
Any landlords with mortgage obligations whose tenants are unable to meet their rent should talk to their lender and apply for a 3 month buy-to-let mortgage holiday.
If you need any advice relating to the private rental sector in the context of COVID-19, please contact Sheree-Ann Virgin or Ella Andrews on 01643 707777.