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The impact of COVID-19 on Landlord and Tenant legislation
06
April

The impact of COVID-19 on Landlord and Tenant legislation

By: Abigail Whelan

Tags: Civil Litigation, Landlord, Leases

You will probably be aware from the various government announcements over the past few days and weeks, that one of the steps they have taken has been to bring in emergency legislation to stop landlords from evicting tenants during this present crisis.

Where a tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and the fixed term has expired, a landlord can normally use what is known as the “accelerated possession procedure” which starts by giving a tenant notice that the landlord is seeking to terminate the tenancy, under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.  

A landlord can only use this procedure when they complied with various requirements, at the start of the tenancy, and throughout the tenancy period,  such as ensuring that the tenants deposit is correctly paid into a Tenancy Deposit Scheme, providing the tenant with a gas safety certificate and an energy performance certificate and ensuring that the tenant has received a “how to rent” checklist (if the property is situated in England).

The Section 21 notice would usually give the tenant two months’ notice, before eviction proceedings in court can commence.

Under the new Coronavirus Act 2020 (schedule 29), the required notice period when serving a Section 21 notice, has increased from 2 months to 3 months. There are similar provisions relating to different types of tenancies.

There has also been an update to the civil procedure rules which has the effect of staying (putting on hold)  all ongoing possession proceedings, for an initial period of 90 days from the 27th March 2020 onwards, with provision for this to be extended, if necessary.

Therefore, while a landlord can still issue a notice under S21 of the Housing Act 1988, they cannot bring a court claim for possession until at least the 25th June 2020.  In other words, a landlord can let the tenant know that they will need to leave, but cannot currently apply to court to force them to do so.

Landlords and Tenants alike should aim to keep an open dialogue with each other in terms of payment of rent and other expenses, both during the lock-down and once it is over.

 Landlords may be able to apply to their mortgage lenders for a payment holiday, for a buy to let mortgage, where rent is not being paid, or is not being paid in full.

If you have any queries or would like further advice, please get in touch with our civil litigation department who will be happy to assist you further.

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