In England and Wales, the government has confirmed that as of 1 June 2021 the notice period for evicting tenants will be reduced from six months down to four months. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government is continuing the extension of the six-month notice period and landlords in Northern Ireland may proceed with their right to evict as normal. So, in England and Wales, what do landlords need to know about the changes to evicting tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic? Read on to find out more…
The eviction ban was introduced at the start of the pandemic as an emergency measure to help against some of the financial burdens for tenants during the most uncertain time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following the recent announcement from the UK Government, in England, bailiffs can now carry out evictions after a notice period of four months, unless there is anyone in the property who has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating. In Wales, bailiffs will not enter your property without a serious reason.
The most serious tenant-eviction cases, such as situations of anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, or fraud, require the same shorter notice period and continue to be prioritised by courts. Some cases dating back to before the pandemic are still waiting to be legally enforced. Serious cases include:
• serious anti-social behaviour (four weeks’ notice for a periodic tenancy or one month for a fixed-term tenancy)
• domestic abuse in the social sector (two to four weeks’ notice)
• false statement (two to four weeks’ notice)
• over four months’ accumulated rent arrears (four weeks’ notice)
• no right to rent in the UK (two weeks’ notice)
• death of a tenant (two months’ notice)
From 1 August 2021, in cases where arrears are less than four months, the eviction notice period will be reduced to two months.
A section 21 notice (also known as Form 6A) is served to a tenant to notify them of the landlord's intention to repossess the property. The changes to possession procedures state that where the notice is issued on or after 1 June 2021, tenants are entitled to at least four months’ notice before a landlord is able to serve such a notice. If the tenant does not leave on the date specified, only after the four months have passed can the landlord apply to the court for a possession order using either the standard possession process or the accelerated possession process.
If your tenant is accumulating rent arrears and is claiming Housing Benefits or Universal Credit, it is possible to get Housing Benefit claims or Universal Credit payments paid straight to you. This is known as ‘managed payments’.
For tenants on Universal Credit, apply to the Department for Work and Pensions. For tenants claiming Housing Benefit, contact the local council of your property.
If you let out a room or part of your main home to a lodger, as a landlord you do not have to go to court to evict your tenant. In this case, landlords only need to give reasonable notice, which is usually the length of a rental payment period. This does not need to be in writing. After the notice period has ended, landlords can legally change the locks.
Landlords should be careful to follow the regulations and procedures for evicting a tenant or could be guilty of harassment or evicting their tenant illegally. Stopping electricity, refusing to carry out repairs, or antisocial behaviour from someone on behalf of a landlord are all considered harassment. Even if you believe a tenant has acted illegally, as a landlord you could be breaking the law if you do not give the correct amount of notice, change the locks or evict a tenant yourself without a court order.
To ensure you are following the correct rules and procedures correctly, read the government guidance.
For more on best practices for letting a property, read how to be a good landlord.
Thinking of letting your property for the first time? Take a look at our guide to letting a property.
Looking to let your property or seeking professional advice? Our Guild Members are on hand to help you with every step of the process. Contact your local agent today to get started.
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