Coronavirus: An update for Landlords and Tenants
Emergency measures have been introduced to protect landlords and tenants during the coronavirus outbreak and includes a total ban on landlords evicting tenants for at least three months during this pandemic.
This decision follows an announcement by the government that any homeowner affected by coronavirus may apply for a ‘payment holiday’ from their mortgage provider for up to three months. This decision, whilst welcomes by many, was met with significant pressure from those renting residential premises who claimed that the government’s proposals did not go far enough to protect them.
Currently, tenants who are subject to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (‘AST’) and who do not pay their rent face eviction. Where a tenant has failed to pay the rent due for at least two months (where rent is paid monthly), a landlord can serve notice pursuant to section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 requiring that tenant to vacate the property within 14 days. If the tenant does not vacate the property voluntarily, a landlord may commence possession proceedings in the country court and, if the tenants still owe at least two months’ rent at the date of the hearing, a judge is required to make an order for possession.
Even where tenants have not breached the terms of their AST they may face eviction if their landlord serves a Section 21 notice giving him or her two months to vacate the property. This is commonly known as a ‘no-fault’ eviction.
The changes to possession claims have been enshrined in section 81 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and mean that landlords will not be able to commence proceedings to evict tenants for a period of three months after service of the relevant notice. This restriction protects renters of both social and private accommodation.
Form 3, known as a section 8 notice and Form 6A, known as a section 21 notice has been updated to reflect these changes. The updated Forms should be used by landlords in England until 30 September 2020.
At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be encouraged to work together to agree to a suitable payment plan. It is understood that this requirement will be incorporated into the Pre-Action Protocol for possession claims which will be extended so that it applies to private landlords as well (at the moment this protocol only applies to social landlords).
To support landlords, the government has announced that the three-month mortgage payment holiday will be extended to buy-to-let mortgages.
It has also been announced that ongoing possession claims which have already been issued and are due to be heard together with all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession will have stayed for 90 days. For further information about ongoing proceedings please see our article Coronavirus: How will it affect my court case?
If you are a landlord or tenant seeking advice about your tenancy agreement, please get in touch with our specialist Property Litigation team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0738.
This information is correct at 12.00pm on 27 March 2020.
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