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Possession - an update on notice periods

View profile for Victoria Zinzan
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Following the enactment of the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Government extended the required notice period when seeking possession of a property.

You can evict a tenant who has an assured shorthold tenancy by way of what is known as a Section 21 notice or Section 8 notice (or both!). A Section 21 notice is typically used after a fixed term tenancy ends or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (commonly known as a periodic tenancy), so long as certain prescribed requirements have been complied with. A Section 8 notice is used when the tenants have breached a term of their tenancy agreement and can be served during the term of the tenancy.

In light of the Coronavirus Act, the required notice period was extended to 6 months, with limited exemptions for exceptional circumstances such as anti-social behaviour. The notice period extension has gradually begun to reduce and has been 4 months since 1 June 2021. It is important to note that the notice period for cases involving less than 4 months’ unpaid rent had been reduced on 1 August 2021 to 2 months.

The new legislation aimed to assist tenants who were facing eviction, provide relief during a financial crisis and give extra time for those who resultantly needed to find alternative accommodation.

After more than 18 months of change, from 1 October 2021, notice periods will return to their pre-pandemic levels. It must be kept in mind that the variation of the notice period was only ever intended to have been temporary and going forward the government considers it to be inappropriate and unreasonable to allow such an extension to continue. The Government needs to strike a balance between providing the support to vulnerable tenants during the height of the pandemic, but also safeguarding landlords’ interests and enabling them to regain possession of their property without such delay.

Whilst this development will  undoubtedly be embraced by landlords, the government are merely suspending the paragraphs which relate to notice periods and the legislation itself remains in force until 25 March 2022. Resultantly, the extension of notice periods can be re-enforced and is something to be wary of as we approach the winter months and the uncertainty of the pandemic’s bearing.

From 1 October 2021, the following notice periods for assured shorthold tenancies shall apply:

  • Section 21/Section 8 using grounds 1,2,5,6,7,9 or 16 = 2 months (cannot expire before the end of the fixed term)
  • Section 8 using grounds 8,10, 11 (rent arrears), 3, 4, 7b, 12, 13, 14A, 15 or 17 = 2 weeks
  • Section 8 using ground 7a (anti-social behaviour with a conviction) = 1 calendar month
  • Section 8 using ground 14 (discretionary anti-social behaviour) = immediately after the notice counts as served (usually 24 hours).

So, can notice periods be backdated? The answer is no. Any notices served before 1 October 2021 will need to comply with the legislation in force at that time. Therefore, landlords who are planning on serving a Section 21/8 notice should consider waiting until 1 October 2021 before taking action.

If you have any questions about the above or require assistance with any matters relating to notice period disputes, please feel free to contact Victoria Zinzan at victoria.zinzan@mfgsolicitors.com or 01527 831691.

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