Specialist solicitor for landlords, David Sodimu of Holmes & Hills Solicitors, discusses the 10th March 2021 announcement regarding the extension to the six month notice period requirement and ban on possession proceedings.
In previous articles, we have discussed the impact of the Coronavirus Act 2020 on Landlords following the changes to the required notice period relating to S21 and S8 proceedings announced by the Government.
On 10 March 2021 the Government, again, extended the moratorium on the enforcement of possession orders for residential properties for a further two months. The decision has been made pursuant to the powers set out in rule 51.2 of the Civil Procedure Rules and the extension will come into effect on 31 March 2021.
The Government have also extended the moratorium on commercial evictions until 30 June 2021.
The Government has extended the application of the six-month notice period for eviction notices, which was originally introduced on 26th March 2020 and has been in place ever since. The previous required notice period being two months.
The announcement made on 10th March 2021 means that until 31st May 2021, private residential landlords will need to continue to give tenants six months’ notice before they can repossess properties, except in the following circumstances:
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, stated:
“The further extension to the repossessions ban will do nothing to help those landlords and tenants financially hit due to the pandemic.
Given the cross-sector consensus for the need to address the rent debt crisis, it suggests the government are unwilling to listen to the voices of those most affected.
If the Chancellor wants to avoid causing a homelessness crisis, he must develop an urgent financial package including interest free, government guaranteed loans to help tenants in arrears to pay off rent debts built since March 2020.
This is vital for those who do not qualify for benefit support. Without this, more tenants face losing their homes, and many will carry damaged credit scores, making it more difficult to rent in the future and causing huge pressure on local authorities when they can least manage it.”
Tenants’ liability to pay rent to their landlord as set out in their tenancy agreement remains unchanged. Landlords are still encouraged to work with tenants to find workable solutions where possible.
A new free mediation pilot, the Housing Possession Mediation Pilot Scheme, is also under way to support landlords and tenants to resolve disputes as possession proceedings progress through the legal system, with a view to avoiding the need for a formal court hearing. The mediation scheme is voluntary, requiring both landlord and tenant to agree to taking part. The mediation service is staffed by trained mediators with mediation sessions taking place via telephone, Whatsapp or Zoom. This pilot scheme has been designed to assist the parties to reach a compromise, with a view to reducing the risk of tenants losing their homes and helping them to sustain tenancies where possible, whilst also reducing strain on the court system.
There have been numerous changes to the requirement to serve an eviction notice and several extensions to the ban on commencing possession proceedings. It cannot be guaranteed this is the last. It is important for landlords to take action where it is possible to do so. Here are some tips on what can be done:
The extension of the requirement to provide a six month notice period and to the ban on commencing residential possession proceedings is clearly going to cause another wave of distress and frustration for many Landlords across England and Wales, especially where tenants are dishonestly taking advantage of the current ban on evictions.
If you are a landlord requiring advice or guidance in relation to dealing with a tenant that is not paying rent or whom you wish to evict from your property, call and speak to Landlord and Tenant Law specialist, David Sodimu.