The eviction landscape has become dark and dreary for landlords. The future seems bleak, with no hope of light in sight. The terrain has become particularly treacherous due to the increasing changes to the eviction rules, procedures, and timescales. Timescales as in when it will become permissible to evict a tenant, the lifespan of the eviction notices or the various eviction notice periods.
The government implemented a new set of rules on August 23, 2020. This article takes us on a journey of the changes from the start of the eviction moratorium to date. It highlights the primary changes.
Before we embark on that journey, it is right to remind ourselves that despite the often emotionally charged situations, an eviction is simply part of the landlording business. It is part of the course: part of the landlord journey. The requirement on our part, as landlords, to follow set eviction procedures and rules remains regardless of the tenants’ conduct. Waking up to the unexpected announcement of an extension to the eviction extension was a slap in the face. Is this true? Is this real? What happens now? These are some of the questions that preoccupied landlords’ minds in the wake of the August 21 eviction ban extension announcement.
Where Are we? How Did we Get Here?
As you will recall, emergency legislation banning tenant evictions was initially introduced on March 26. This initial eviction ban was for three months. It was due to expire on June 25, 2020. On the expiry of the initial three-month eviction ban, the eviction moratorium was increased by another two months up to August 23. In an announcement made on August 21, an unanticipated extension to the eviction moratorium was announced (“the August Ambush”). The extended eviction ban is slated to expire on September 20, 2020. After the August Ambush, what certainty do we have that the current ban will be lifted this month? Now that we have woken up to where we are, let us walk through the timeline of the changes and how they affect us as landlords. Needless to say, the nightmare of the overnight extension to the eviction only served to exacerbate matters.
Change to Eviction Notice Periods
Before the pandemic, the Section 21 notice period was two months. The Section 8 notice period was only 14 days.
After the first wave of Covid-19 changes, the Section 21 notice period shifted to 3 months. The Section 8 notice period became three months too. The wording of the notices changed to accommodate the Coronavirus Act wording. Those changes are now obsolete.
The second wave extending the eviction ban from March to August did not require any changes to the notice periods. Notice periods remained unchanged.
The wording remained unchanged. The third wave saw the most significant last-minute changes as outlined below:
A steep increase in the Section 21 notice period to six months, from just two months, pre-COVID-19.
The Section 8 notice period jumped to six months from the 14 days pre-coronavirus notice period.
Can I Evict Someone Right Now?
Yes. You can serve eviction notices and commence proceedings. Note, however, the following:
(1) Evictions, particularly in this season, must be a weapon of last resort. (2) All eviction proceedings will be automatically stayed until the ban has been lifted; a reactivation notice may need to be served. This is discussed as part of the “Getting Eviction Ready” Landlord Vision eviction series. Look out for the next article.
How Do I Evict a Tenant Post-September 20, 2020?
In almost the same way as before. There are no significant changes. The primary changes relate to the notice periods and the lifespan of the notices. Of course, the notices have now been updated. Here is a link to the updated Section 21 and Section 8 notices.
The other eviction points worth noting are:
Notices served from August 29, 2020, until at least March 31, 2021, must provide six months’ except:
- In serious cases where landlords can start proceedings within a shorter timeframe. The serious cases include anti-social behaviour and, rioting and false statement. The notice periods for these have returned to their pre-Coronavirus Act 2020 periods as helpfully outlined here.
- In circumstances where at least six months of rent is unpaid. In which case, a four-week notice period will be required.
- Where a tenant is in breach of immigration rules and does not have a right to rent a property in the United Kingdom then a minimum 3-month notice period.
- Where, unfortunately, a tenant has died.
Please note that notices issued during the period between March 26 to August 28, 2020, are unaffected by the post-September 20, 2020 changes outlined above.
Whichever eviction route you use, please remember that as landlords, we cannot force tenants to leave the property without a possession warrant.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of the eviction guide where we continue to explore the eviction journey.
None of the information in this article is intended to constitute, nor does it constitute, any legal advice or guidance. No warranty, express or implied, about the accuracy or reliability of this information is made. If you have questions, please contact Creative Legals.
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