Notice periods for seeking possession of most residential tenancies in England reduced to four months

1st Jun 2021

As we slowly move towards a closer semblance of normality following the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, there is good news on the horizon for landlords who wish to regain possession of residential properties.

As we slowly move towards a closer semblance of normality following the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, there is good news on the horizon for landlords who wish to regain possession of residential properties.

As many will be aware, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CVA 2020) received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020 and came into force on 26 March 2020. The CVA 2020 was passed as an emergency measure in response to the spread of COVID-19 and introduced a wide variety of new measures, including restrictions on the ability of landlords to recover possession of their properties.

Of particular relevance to residential landlords is the restriction on recovery of possession of residential premises let under assured and assured shorthold tenancies under the Housing Act 1988 (“HA 1988”). The CVA 2020 increased notice periods in relation to possession proceedings for certain residential tenancies with the aim of protecting residential tenants from eviction for the “relevant period”. The relevant period began on 26 March 2020 and, following several extensions, was due to end on 31 May 2021.

Last year, the basic notice period for seeking possession of residential tenancies in England and Wales was increased to six months, subject to certain exceptions . On 12 May 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) issued a press release announcing that this basic notice period will be reduced in England from six months to four months with effect from today, 1 June 2021.

On the same day as the press release, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) (No 2) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/564) (“the Notice Regulations”) were laid before Parliament. These regulations are to give effect to that press release.

The Notice Regulations apply in England only. They:

  • Extend the end of the relevant period until 30 September 2021.
  • Reduce the required notice periods for most residential possession notices, from six to four months (the notice period may be shorter if an exception applies). This includes section 21 notices.
  • Maintain the existing exceptions where the grounds of eviction relate to anti-social behaviour, domestic violence or acquiring the tenancy as a result of a false statement.
  • Modify the notice periods where the landlord relies on grounds involving rent arrears, the tenant’s right to rent or the death of the tenant.

The modifications to the exceptions mean that where the tenancy is a protected or statutory tenancy under the Rent Act 1977 (RA 1977), a secure, assured or assured shorthold tenancy (AST), the following notice periods will apply:

  • Four weeks, where the landlord relies on rent arrears and at least four months’ rent is unpaid at the time the notice is served.
  • Four months, where the landlord relies on rent arrears and less than four months’ rent is unpaid at the time the notice is served. The notice period will be two months for Notices served on or after 1 August 2021.
  • Four weeks, where the landlord relies on Case 10A in Schedule 2 to the RA 1977, or two weeks if it relies on Ground 7B in Schedule 2 to the HA 1988 (no right to rent).
  • Two months, where the landlord relies on Ground 7 in Schedule 2 to the HA 1988 (death of tenant).

In light of the reduction in the notice period for notices seeking possession under section 21 of the HA 1988, from six to four months, the period in which possession proceedings must be commenced will reduce from ten to eight months from the date on which the notice was given.

The amendments set out above will not apply to relevant notices given or served before 1 June 2021.

To reflect the above amendments, new prescribed form notices under section 8 and 21 of the HA 1988 have also been introduced and will need to be used as from 1st June 2021.

The above will be welcome news to landlords wanting to regain possession of their properties. If you are a landlord considering taking steps to remove a tenant, our property litigation team can advise you on the most appropriate type of notice to serve and the time limits that will apply to your particular situation. For further advice please contact Elizabeth Gibson at eg@rogers-norton.co.uk or on (01603) 675641.

*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or any other professional advice.