The Coronavirus Bill was introduced by the Government on 21 March 2020 and has already had its third reading in the House of Commons.
Ministers last week promised a “complete ban” on evictions to allay the fears of renters facing a drop on their incomes as a result of the crisis. However, the Coronavirus Bill does not ban evictions. Labour has accused Boris Johnson of “breaking his promise” to UK renters at risk of eviction as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Currently, a landlord who requires possession of their property which is let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy can use the ‘no-fault eviction’ procedure by serving a section 21 notice (under the Housing Act 1988). The section 21 notice currently must provide a tenant with no less than two months’ notice before the landlord can apply to the court for possession.
In contrast, where a tenant has breached a term of the tenancy, a landlord can serve a section 8 notice (under the Housing Act 1988) which will usually (depending on the nature of the breach) provide a tenant with fourteen days’ notice before the landlord may apply to the court for a possession order.
Bill extends the notice period under section 21
The Coronavirus Bill extends the notice period under section 21 (of the Housing Act 1988) from a two-month notice period to a three-month notice period.
The Bill also extends all notice periods under section 8 (of the Housing Act 1988) to a three-month notice period. This means that even if a tenant is not paying any rent at all, landlords will be required to wait for three months before commencing possession proceedings against their tenants in a court.
New three-month notice period
The Bill also confirms that the new three-month notice period eviction notices may be amended by the Secretary of State to six months-notice. It is understood that this would only happen in the event that the Coronavirus outbreak was not getting any better by the end of a three-month period.
The new provisions in relation to eviction notices will become law as soon as the Coronavirus Bill has been passed by both Houses in Parliament and received Royal Assent.
In any event, these new provisions may not adversely affect landlords as the courts across England and Wales have been adjourning possession claims until further notice.
Cases to be heard by way of video conferences
It is expected that the courts will continue to deal with possession claims once the Coronavirus Bill has been passed. However, court hearings may be dealt with by way of video conferences or even substituted with directions for parties to make written submissions to the court in order for claims to be dealt with without the need for court appearances.
Source: Landlord Advice UK
Author: Mr Sasha Charles
Date: 24th of March 2020