As we blogged last week, following the extension to the evictions ban, landlords now have to give six months’ notice before they can evict a tenant. Now the landscape has shifted again. Last week, following increasing pressure to consider the problems being faced by landlords as a result of the newly extended ban, the government announced more changes to notice periods.
The new rules – which have taken immediate effect, – mean a range of different notice periods depending on the reason why landlords are seeking to evict someone.
The revised notice periods for landlords and letting agents are now as follows:
- anti-social behaviour (now 4 weeks’ notice)
- domestic abuse (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- false statement (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (now 4 weeks’ notice)
- breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (now 3 months’ notice)
This means landlords can now start the ball rolling to evict tenants who were already in arrears pre-lockdown. However, if they want to reclaim possession of their property in order to live in it themselves, they will still need to give their tenant six months’ notice.
Forms 3 and 6a have been updated and were published over the weekend and ARLA Propertymark told the press on Friday that it understands that notices will now be valid for 10 months. This means they won’t expire before action can be taken against the tenants in question.
So some good news for landlords. But as the National Residential Landlords Association says, the changes won’t make much difference unless property owners get a “cast iron guarantee” that the courts will re-open as planned on September 20.
New court rules have also been agreed, coming into force on 20 September, that mean landlords will need to set out in their claim any relevant information about a tenant’s circumstances, including information on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Where this information is not provided, judges will have the ability to adjourn proceedings.
So the best that landlords can do now is to follow the law to the letter and ensure that, if they wish to evict a tenant once the courts are up and running, that they have served the correct notice and have all their paperwork in order. There will inevitably be a huge backlog and being well prepared in advance will mean the least possible opportunity for further delay.
Our advice remains the same. Talk to tenants who are having financia problems and try to agree a payment plan that suits both parties. And if you are actively seeking new tenants for your property, make sure you carry out all the relevant referencing. With furlough coming to an end in October, many people could find themselves on the receiving end of a redundancy notice, so nothing is certain in these Covid times. But vetting tenants carefuly is a must. Our automated lettings platform PlanetRent could help, so check it out today.