The ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during the lockdown, ended on the 31st of May and after a tough year for landlords in England, there is at last some good news.
As the pandemic restrictions continue to ease, the government announced the notice periods will be reduced.
From the 1st of June, the notice periods in England that are currently set at six months will now be reduced to four months.
From the 1st of August, notice periods for cases with four months or less unpaid rent will reduce to two months’ notice.
It is envisaged that notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from the 1st of October.
For the most severe cases the notice periods will remain as per below:
- Domestic abuse in the social sector: 2-4 weeks’ notice.
- Anti-social behaviour: immediate to 4 weeks’ notice.
- Above 4 months accumulated arrears: 4 weeks’ notice.
- False statement: 2-4 weeks’ notice.
- Breach of immigration rules: 2 weeks’ notice
- Death of tenant: 2 months’ notice.
The changes are a way of the government supporting both landlords and tenants and responds to the significant difference between COVID and pre COVID notice periods for tenant rent arrears.
These new measures for the phasing out of long notice periods, will allow landlords to once again be able to use the law to evict tenants who do not pay rent or accumulate large rent arrears.
During the pandemic, many landlords suffering serious rent arrears have felt that the government has not offered them adequate support and help.
Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving fraud or anti-social behaviour, with many of the evictions waiting to be enforced when the ban lifts pre-dating the pandemic.
14 days’ notice is required before an eviction can take place, so no evictions are expected to take place before mid-June except for the most serious circumstances. Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if they have been made aware that anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.
Whilst this is good news for landlords there is still a feeling that there is room for more help from the government for both tenants and landlords to avoid evictions and the ability to pay off rent debts that have built up since last March.
With many commercial business owners in the leisure and hospitality industry now being affected by the delay of ‘Freedom Day’ until 19th July, its unclear if the government will offer help to commercial tenants and landlords to cover the delay.
The Government has said it intends to review landlord and tenant legislation relating to the commercial property sector later this year to consider a broad range of matters including Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (security of tenure), different models of rent payment and an analysis of the impact of coronavirus on the market.
For any landlords still struggling financially from the affects of the coronavirus pandemic, the advice is to seek help and support from your advisors and accountants.