The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has announced that The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 (as amended) will not be re-extended after they expire at the end of this month.
This means the de facto prohibition on most evictions in England shall cease at the end of 31 May 2021 and will not be extended any further, it has been confirmed. The number of warrants of possession obtained by landlords during the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 was down by 80% year-on-year; the number of evictions carried out was reduced by 96% compared to the first quarter of 2020. In Q1 of 2021, the data records that there were 3 mortgage and 262 landlord repossessions carried out by bailiffs.
In Wales, the ‘ban’ is in place on most evictions until the end of 30 June 2021. There is no exception for substantial rent arrears, meaning the exceptions to the ban have been narrower than in England.
CPR r.83.8A(2) requires 14 days’ notice of eviction to be delivered to the premises using the methods set out in r.83.8A(4). This applies to proceedings in either the High Court or County Court. The rule change harmonising the requirements in both Courts came into effect on 20 September 2020, pursuant to paragraph 3(a) of the Civil Procedure (Amendment No.5) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 (SI 2020/889).
In practice therefore, the earliest date on which enforcement action, which has heretofore been excluded from the moratorium on most evictions, can take place is 15 June 2021, assuming that notice of eviction is delivered to the property on 1 June 2021.
However, longer section 8 and section 21 Housing Act 1988 notice periods shall remain in place for notices delivered/served from 1 June 2021 onwards.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 amend Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, by extending the period during which these longer notice periods are required until 30 September 2021.
Section 21 notices
- In Wales, since 24 July 2020 and up until 30 June 2021, a s21 notice must give at least 6 months’ notice.
- The Welsh Ministers have not yet confirmed what the position shall be after 30 June 2021
- In England, since 29 August 2021 and up until 31 May 2021, a s21 notice must give at least 6 months’ notice.
- 4 months’ notice will be required for s21(1) or (4) notices served in England from 1 June 2021 onwards. Said notices are valid for 8 months from when they are served (reduced from 10 months), meaning a claim must be brought before this shorter deadline expires.
Section 8 notices
- In Wales, since 24 July 2020 and until at least 30 June 2021, there must be at least 6 months’ notice
- In Wales, the only exception to the 6-month requirement is for grounds relating to anti-social behaviour, the notice period for which has reverted to the pre-pandemic requirements of no more than 1 month, depending on the type of tenancy and the ground used
- In England, from 1 June 2021 onwards, 4 weeks’ notice is required for Grounds 8, 10 or 11, if rent arrears are 4 months or more
- If arrears are less than 4 months and Grounds 8, 10 and/or 11 are relied upon (and no other Grounds are invoked), then notices served between 1 June 2021 and 31 July 2021 must give 4 months’ notice. From 1 August 2021, such a notice must give 2 months’ notice.
- 4 months’ notice is required for most other Grounds
- 2 weeks’ notice shall be required for Grounds 7B, 14A, 14ZA or 17.
The Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) and Suspension (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 were laid before Parliament on 13 May and come into effect on 1 June 2021. As per their title, they apply in England only.
The Regulations set out new versions of the section 8 and section 21 notices, Forms 3 and 6A respectively.
MHCLG states that ‘45% of private landlords own just one rental property and are highly vulnerable to rent arrears.’ The announcement acknowledged the need for landlords to access justice, in particular given the protracted stay on possession action plus the restrictions on enforcement action which have been in place for several months since the stay on claims was lifted.
MHCLG has stated, “Subject to the public health advice and progress with the Roadmap, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October .”
The MHCLG press release also confirms that the government intends to publish a white paper in the autumn setting out proposals towards the abolition of Section 21 evictions, as well as a new ‘lifetime deposit’ for tenants, which is intended to be portable between different properties when they move.