Pandemic causes changes to eviction notice periods
In 2020, the world plunged into the Coronavirus pandemic which has caused an array of different problems in numerous areas of the legal sector.
A key issue that this article touches upon is how tenant eviction notices in the residential section would work in light of the pandemic which has been a major concern for both tenants and the landlords.
What are Section 8 and 21 notices?
Normally, a Section 8 or Section 21 notice can be used by a landlord to evict residential tenants who have an entered into an assured shorthold tenancy. A Section 8 notice is more commonly used when a tenant has failed to perform the terms of their tenancy and a Section 21 notice is used either after a fixed term tenancy comes to an end or during a periodic tenancy although there are certain requirements that must be checked in order for the notice to be valid.
Which major changes occurred to the notice periods in light of the pandemic?
Previously the Section 8 and 21 notice periods contained in the Housing Act 1988 required the tenant to be given shorter notice periods before they could be evicted: at least 2 weeks’ notice for Section 8 notices and 2 months’ notice for Section 21 notices. Due to the pandemic, these sections had to be modified in order to take into account the financial hardships many tenants would have faced during this period and to enable them to have a sufficient period to search for a new accommodation. Therefore, these provisions were amended by Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 on an emergency basis which meant that tenants that received an eviction notice from their landlord between the 26th of March 2020 and 30th of September 2021 were given longer notice periods than usual, ranging from 3-6 months based on government decisions at the time.
As a result, the longer notice periods favoured tenants who were struggling throughout the pandemic, for example, either by catching coronavirus or living with an individual who caught it, having to self-isolate, losing their job or earning less. The amendment to the length of the notice period also had an impact on landlords trying to repossess their properties hence leading to many of them delaying serving notices on their tenants until after the government had withdrawn those additional measures.
Very recently, Schedule 29 was amended by The Coronavirus Act (Residential Tenancies and Notices) (Amendment and Suspension) (England) Regulations 2021. On 01st October 2021, the length of the eviction notice periods reverted back to what it previously was, enabling landlords to repossess their properties within a fair and reasonable time frame, however this has now caused an extremely high number of notices to be served on tenants meaning that the courts could potentially be overwhelmed with proceedings for repossession of their property.
What does the future hold in terms of the changes to the notice periods?
The pandemic seems like that it is here to stay for the moment, so with this in mind, the government have ensured the new amendment would also enable the emergency eviction notice periods to be reinstated any time from now up until the 25th of March 2022, depending on the situation with the pandemic and if it worsens again.
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