September 7, 2020Lettings, Property News

Lettings latest: extension to eviction ban

Being evicted: it sounds so harsh. Sometimes we think the phrase ‘being asked to vacate the property’ sounds a lot better, as eviction isn’t always a negative or malicious act. There are many reasons why a landlord may want to regain possession of his property – they may simply want to sell the residence or move into it themselves. Whatever the thinking behind the action, there have always been rules attached to how a tenant is evicted – you’ll find details about this and how it may change later on in this blog.

For now, in our new Covid era, a set of temporary eviction alterations have been made to allow for today’s exceptional conditions. As the situation continues to unfold with a degree of uncertainty, it is worth clarifying the current circumstances during which a landlord can evict a tenant.

No new evictions for now

With many tenants furloughed, facing redundancy or in a delicate financial situation, the Government has placed a temporary ban on new evictions. This is designed to give tenants greater protection and confidence that they will be allowed to stay in their homes. 

The ban was supposed to be lifted at the end of August 2020 but at the eleventh hour, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that the eviction ban would be extended for the second time. The new deadline is 20th September 2020 and, only at this point, courts will start hearing eviction proceedings again.

Tenants must receive 6 months’ notice to leave

To complement this news, a new notice period has been introduced and will be in place until at least 31st March 2021. This means landlords will have to give tenants 6 months’ notice if they want to evict them in all but the most serious of cases.

Eviction exceptions for exceptional cases

Serious cases include anti-social behaviour and if this is the cause for eviction, the tenant only needs to be served a four week notice period. It is the same notice period – 4 weeks – for tenants who have built up rent arrears of 6 months or more. If the eviction is due to domestic violence in the property, the landlord only has to serve the tenants 2 weeks’ notice.

Permanent eviction changes on the horizon

Unless you are a landlord, you may not know that there are currently two types of eviction notice: Section 21 and Section 8. Sometimes these are referred to as ‘notices to quit’.

A Section 21 notice doesn’t have to specify a reason why the landlord wants to regain possession of their property, and is sometimes referred to as a ‘no fault eviction’. Circumstances such as the landlord selling the property fall under a Section 21 notice. This notice cannot be served in the first 4 months of a tenancy. A Section 8 eviction notice covers instances where a tenant has breached their contract – such as rent arrears of more than two months, subletting or unsociable behaviour – and can be served at any time during the tenancy.

At the end of 2019, the Queen’s Speech contained details of a Renters’ Reform Bill that will see the removal of Section 21 notices from the Housing Act 1988. It is hoped that in its place will be a revised and more comprehensive Section 8 notice – the details of which are yet to be revealed. A firm date when Section 21 notices will cease to exist is also to be confirmed.

If you are a landlord or a tenant and would like further clarification on the matter of evictions, please contact our lettings team.

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