The Government has introduced a package of measures, to protect renters affected by a coronavirus, in the private and social sectors.
These measures will afford renters some protection, from eviction in the short term. These measures apply to England and Wales.
Eviction notice extended to 3 months
From today, should landlords wish to evict a tenant, they are required to give renters three months’ notice.
Landlords under the new rules, will not be able to obtain possession, through the court process unless they have served a valid notice.
This extended notice period will come into force from today and remain until 30 September 2020.
At this stage, we assume section 21 and section 8 notice all have an expiry date of 3-months. What will happen to ground 14 under section 8, is unclear?
This ground was added to the section 8 notice under housing Act 1996. In some instances, as an emergency measure, the ground 14 could be used to remove a rogue tenant.
Ground 14 is the only ground, that has no waiting period; hence a notice could be served, and possession proceedings could be instigated, forthwith.
No Grounds to evict a rogue tenant
To dispense with this ground, albeit it in the short term, may cause severe problems for private and social landlords. Ground 14 was added to the law books much later under the Housing Act 1996, this was done for good reasons.
Mrs Helen Cartwright of The British Landlords Association said: “Social and private landlords need a tool in law, in order to deal with a rogue tenant. Understandably the police cannot help and will not step into the realm of civil law. In some rare instances as an urgent matter, Ground 14 was it, that was the answer for some landlords. We will study the fine details of the bill introduced, to see where we stand now”.
The Government has left the door open, should they need to change the endpoint, and the three month notice period, they will be able to do so.
Lodgers, Licenses and Mortgage possession claim protected too
Tenancies under the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988 are all affected, by the extension of the notice period.
After the three month notice period, provided the landlord has served a valid notice. An application to the county court will need to be made, for a possession claim.
Existing possession claims to be cancelled
From tomorrow, upon a decision by the Master of the Rolls, with the Lord Chancellors agreement, the court service will suspend all pending housing possession claims. All housing possession claims currently issued by a county court may be cancelled from tomorrow.
Mr Sasha Charles the CEO of Landlord Advice UK one the leading tenant eviction companies in the UK said: “last week some courts declined to issue claims and also cancelled all bailiff appointments.”
He added: “clients who were waiting for bailiffs to convey vacant possession to them, had started the eviction process, some six months ago. They are already nursing six months rent arrears”, he said.
Possession claims waiting to be issued, will not be issued and are likely to be returned.
Businesses now also have protection from eviction for 3 months.
Lodgers, licenses, businesses and mortgage possession claims, will be afforded protection under the “Protection from Eviction Act 1977” too.
Support for renters and landlords
Tenants still need to pay their rent and should pay this, as per there tenancy agreement. If renters face financial difficulty and struggle to pay rent, the Government has announced help.
Specific measures in place are:
- Pre-action protocol requirement for the private rented sector.
- £500 million available to fund for those experiencing financial difficulty.
- Workers support package, the Government would pay up to 80% of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per month, where workers are placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
- Both Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will increase from April; Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.
The Government is committed to supporting landlords by providing a 3-month mortgage payment holiday, where they have a Buy to Let mortgage.
An agreement for non-urgent repairs, to be carried out later, should be agreed between tenants and landlords.
Landlords should ensure all urgent, essential health and safety repairs, are carried out in a timely manner.
Local authorities will be encouraged, by the Government to take a pragmatic, risk-based approach to enforcement action against landlords.
Source: British Landlords Association
Author: Marc Attwater
Date: 26th of March 2020