As the phased lifting of restrictions imposed by the government due to COVID-19 continues, new changes to notices and evictions are set to give landlords shorter time frames on notices and evictions.
A blanket ban on evictions was imposed last year at the beginning of the pandemic in order to protect tenants but was lifted in September and substituted by a tight restriction on bailiff-enforced evictions.
The easing of the rental restrictions will see notice periods reduced from their current level of six months to four months. They were increased to six months during the pandemic, but will now be eased from 1st June 2021.
The Government said it would look to reduce notice periods even further, back to pre-pandemic levels, from 1st October. However, this will depend on the progress that the country makes with the virus.
From 1 June, landlords must give tenants at least four months notice for repossession in most cases. This will include any Section 21 notices served and the majority of Section 8 notices. The changes will not be backdated. This means notices served up to and including 31st May will need to provide a minimum of six months’ notice.
At the beginning of June, there will also be new prescribed forms for Section 8 and 21 notices. These documents will become available on the government’s website. Landlords must use the most up-to-date version for the day the notice counts as served to the tenant.
Keep in mind that most notices usually count as served a couple working days after being posted, so landlords should avoid serving notices in the days leading up to 1 June.
From 1 October, notice periods will then return to pre-pandemic levels. This will be subject to public health advice and progress with the roadmap out of lockdown. Notice periods may be minimised for cases of severe rent arrears.
The government has also announced restrictions will end for bailiff-enforced evictions next month. From 1 June, bailiffs will begin operating again. The only circumstance in which a bailiff cannot carry out an eviction is in the event of a tenant self-isolating from showing COVID symptoms.
After restarting, there will be a significant backlog of eviction cases. Courts will prioritise the most serious cases, including those involving anti-social behaviour and fraud.
Of course in an ideal world, landlords would not have to worry about getting to the stage of requiring an eviction. The key to this is to ensure tenants who have been meticulously referenced have been put into your property, with great communications built with them to ensure on-time rental payments and prompt maintenance issue responses.
For more information on how Edward Mellor can assist you with this, give our property management team a call on 0161 820 6638.