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Coronavirus Act 2020: further update on extended stay on possession proceedings and extension to notice periods

The stay on possession proceedings has been extended until 20 September 2020 in England and Wales.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Practice Direction 51Z (PD51Z) was introduced on 27 March 2020 which imposed a stay on possession proceedings. The stay period was due to expire on 23 August 2020. In a last minute U-turn, the Government made a number of announcements on 21 August 2020 in relation to the progression of possession proceedings:

  • The stay on possession proceedings has been extended for a further four weeks until 20 September 2020 (6 months in total) in England and Wales;
  • A new six-month notice period will be put in place for most cases until 31 March 2021. This will apply to England only. The Welsh Government have already introduced a 6-month notice period from 24 July 2020 until at least the end of September 2020 for all grounds other than the nuisance grounds and we expect that they are likely to extend that further after the end of September;
  • Once eviction hearings restart, the Government have confirmed that the judiciary will prioritise “serious cases” including those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes as well as those where landlords have not received rent for over a year.

Extension to notice period

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 29 August 2020 and will apply in England until 31 March 2021.

The Regulations provide that a landlord must give six months’ notice before commencing possession proceedings in the majority of cases with a number of exceptions:

Secure tenancies – Housing Act 1985

  • Ground 1 – rent arrears are at least six months and no other ground is relied upon (save for 2A, 27A or 5) – four weeks
  • Ground 2 – nuisance/anti-social behaviour – no notice
  • Ground 2A – domestic violence (where no other ground save for ground 1 is relied upon) – four weeks
  • Ground 27A – indictable offence at riot (where no other ground save for ground 1 is relied upon) – four weeks
  • Ground 5 – tenancy granted after false statement (where no other ground save for ground 1 is relied upon) – 4 weeks

Assured and assured shorthold tenancies – Housing Act 1988

  • Section 21 – no fault in ASTs – six months’ notice. The period in which possession proceedings may be brought has been extended to 10 months from the date of service of the notice.
  • Grounds 8, 10 or 11 – rent arrears, where not less than six months of arrears are outstanding at the time of service of the notice – four weeks
  • Ground 7 – after the death of a tenant (where no other grounds are relied upon) – three months
  • Ground 7A – mandatory anti-social behaviour – 28 days for periodic tenancies and one month for fixed term tenancies
  • Ground 7B – no right to rent (where no other grounds are relied upon) – three months
  • Ground 14 – nuisance and anti-social behaviour – no notice
  • Ground 14A – domestic abuse (where no other grounds are relied upon) – two weeks
  • Ground 14ZA – indictable offence in riot (where no other grounds are relied upon) – two weeks
  • Ground 17 – tenancy granted after false representation (where no other grounds are relied upon) – two weeks

Contractual tenancy

  • Notice to quit rules were never affected by coronavirus legislation so the usual notice period of 28 days applies.

The Regulations are not retrospective. Accordingly, for any notices deemed served before 29 August 2020 the previous notice periods will apply and notices will remain valid.

The Government have confirmed that they intend to keep the measures under review in line with the latest public health advice.

We will of course keep you updated as to any further announcements as and when received.

Useful link to amended prescribed form

The prescribed form Notices Seeking Possession have been amended. You can find more information on the dedicated guidance page for assured tenancy forms and secure tenancy forms.

We will of course keep you updated as to any further announcements as and when received.

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