Coronavirus (COVID-19): Implications for Residential Tenancies
The government has passed special legislation, namely the Coronavirus Act 2020 (the ‘Act’) in light of the national Coronavirus outbreak. The emergency legislation has introduced a series of measures to help the government deal with the outbreak, some of which impact residential tenancies.
Restrictions on the termination of tenancies
The Act stipulated that from the 26 March 2020 until 30 September 2020, landlords must give all tenants three months’ notice if they intend to serve any notice seeking possession, or notice to quit. The Secretary of State also has the power to extend this period by up to a further three months.
The temporary legislation applies to the possession of tenancies governed by the Rent Act 1977, the Housing At 1985 and the Housing Act 1988. If court proceedings are necessary, Landlords will be able to apply to the court after three months’ notice.
Landlords wishing to serve notice on tenants ought to be aware that the change in the legislation is also reflected in the prescribed forms of Notice. Form 3 and Form 6A, also known as Section 8 and Section 21 Notice’s respectively, have been changed. Landlords must use the current forms until 30 September 2020. The Forms are accessible via the Government website: www.gov.uk/guidance/assured-tenancy-forms
Suspension of court proceedings
From 27 March 2020, the Court’s has suspended all ongoing housing possession cases. This means that neither cases currently in or about to go into the system can be progressed.
The suspension of housing possession actions will initially last for 90 days and applies to all possession actions brought under CPR Part 55. Therefore, all hearings which were listed to be heard until the end of June will be vacated. County Court bailiffs have also ceased enforcement of possession orders already in force for the time being.
Are there any exceptions?
The Act does not apply to all tenancies, for example, it may not apply to some student lettings, holiday lets or tenancies at low rent. It is worth noting that the Act is not retrospective, so therefore it does not apply to any notices which were validly served before the commencement of the Act. They will remain valid for the purpose of issuing future court proceedings. However, if court proceedings are necessary, Landlords will not be able to issue proceedings until after the suspension is lifted.
The Act does not prevent Landlords from serving notice. However, Landlords must give at least three months’ notice under the Act. If the tenant has not vacated the property within the three months’ notice period, landlords cannot commence court proceedings until after the suspension has been lifted.
If you need advice on any property law matter during the Coronavirus outbreak, please contact Robert Twining on 01732 770660, email [email protected] or via our contact page. Warners Solicitors has offices in Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, Kent.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.