Written by Priya Masih
The Coronavirus Act 2020 provided privately renting residential tenants with protection during the pandemic by delaying the terms upon which their landlords could evict them. The Act increased the required length of notice period which private residential landlords could provide tenants with whilst attempting to seek possession of the property. Between 29 August 2020 to 31 May 2021, with the exception of the most serious cases, landlords were required to provide their tenants six months’ notice prior to initiating possession proceedings. The Act also placed a stay on enforcement officers serving and ultimately enforcing Possession Orders.
From 1 June 2021, the notice period length has been reduced to four months, including instances where the tenant has accrued four months’ of rent arrears. Most significantly, the stay on enforcement offices enforcing Possession Orders has been lifted. The amendments to the Act has provided landlords with a much desired outcome in being able to obtain possession of their property. With the ban being extended several times, this has caused a build-up of considerable rent arrears and left many Landlords who rely on rental income in a difficult position. Landlords can regain possession from a tenant who is currently privately renting a property under an Assured Shorthold Property by serving a notice under the grounds of Section 8 or Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. In the event that a Landlord has already obtained a Possession Order from Court, they are now able to instruct enforcement officers to enforce that Order. Landlords are able to make claims for unpaid rent via the Small Claims Court (if the debt is £10,000 or lower) or the County Court (if the debt is over £10,000) which has not been subject to any ban or stay under the Coronavirus Act 2020.
However, it is worth bearing in mind that the ban on evictions was originally in put place in March last year to in order protect tenants who fell into arrears as a result of the pandemic. It is therefore, going to be a concerning time for residential tenants who may be subject to enforcement action by their Landlord. It should be noted that a Landlord cannot force a tenant to leave the property without a Court Order.
How we can help
As both residential and commercial property specialists, Ackroyd Legal have acted for a raft of landlords and provided extensive advice over the COVID-19 period. Our firm takes pride in the knowledge and expertise of its brilliant property litigation team, which works with landlords with single lets as well as those with portfolios of 100+ properties across the UK.