Return to Pre-Pandemic Notice Periods

This week we have a fantastic guest article from Rebecca Chadwick, solicitor at Landlord Support Legal Solutions. Rebecca is locally based in Ormskirk and specialises in landlord and tenant law, including serving notice, proceedings, disputes and anything else which can arise when things go wrong in a tenancy. Extended notice periods have been a feature […]

This week we have a fantastic guest article from Rebecca Chadwick, solicitor at Landlord Support Legal Solutions. Rebecca is locally based in Ormskirk and specialises in landlord and tenant law, including serving notice, proceedings, disputes and anything else which can arise when things go wrong in a tenancy. Extended notice periods have been a feature of the last 18 months thanks to Covid but will revert to normal from 1st October 2021. Rebecca tells us more below about how to stay compliant.

The government has finally announced that notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels on 1st October 2021.

Since 26th March 2020, Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 has increased the notice periods in relation to most possession proceedings for private residential tenancies with the aim of protecting residential tenants from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schedule 29 has been amended several times since its enactment, amending notice periods and prescribed forms in the process. In addition to this, a total embargo on possession proceedings and bailiff evictions until 21st September 2020 and 31st May 2021 respectively, together with procedural changes to Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules (‘CPR’ - which governs the court process for possession claims) have complicated the process for landlords seeking possession of their property.

The not-so succinctly entitled “Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies and Notices) (Amendment and Suspension) (England) Regulations 2021” will:

With effect from 1st October 2021, revert the notice period that must be given in notices seeking possession of residential properties in England back to the pre-pandemic notice periods, as set out in section 8 and section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
With effect from 1st October 2021, introduce new prescribed forms of notice under section 8 and section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 – Form 3 and Form 6A respectively.
With effect from 30th September 2021, extend the "relevant period" in Schedule 29 to 25th March 2022. This means that the government retains its emergency powers to impose longer notice periods until then.
Tactical Points
It is important to note that these changes will not retrospectively apply to notices served before 1st October 2021. The notice periods which were applicable to those notices when they were served will still apply.

It is therefore now tactically worthwhile waiting until 01/10/2021 before serving section 21 notices and most section 8 notices.

Of course, landlords must make sure the notice is on the correct prescribed form in force at the time and advice is recommended in bespoke situations related to issues such as anti-social behaviour or right to rent cases.

Miscellaneous Points
Landlords should also be aware:

There remains a possibility that extended notice periods will be re-imposed between now and 25th March 2022. This will depend on the effect of the pandemic over the winter period.
The procedural changes to possession proceedings (brought in by Practice Direction 55C of CPR) remain in force until at least 30th November 2021, and this date could be extended. The changes are mandatory and failure to comply with them will prejudice a possession claim.
Court fees are due to rise from 30th September 2021.
Concluding Thoughts
Landlords should be aware that this is not the first time the law related to notices has been amended – section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 has been amended four times and section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 has been amended three times since they were introduced. This is not even considering recent changes brought about by the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 or the Deregulation Act 2015.

And it would be misguided to think that more changes will not occur in the future – the Renters Reform Bill is on the horizon for a start! Are you confident that you are up to date and aware of all legal requirements and potential pitfalls when it comes to seeking possession of your property?

Are you confident that you are up to date and aware of all legal requirements and potential pitfalls when it comes to seeking possession of your property? If you'd like to discuss your requirements in more detail please contact me on 01704 790532 or email rebecca@landlord-support.co.uk

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