HOUSING EVICTIONS BANNED!
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the impact on incomes, the UK Government passed the Coronavirus Act 2020
Coronavirus Act came into force on 26th March 2020 The purpose of this act was to ensure that tenants will not be evicted during this unprecedented period. This Act has had far reaching implications for Landlords seeking to recover possession. These provisions apply to England & Wales only.
As of 27th March 2020, most proceedings for possession under CPR 55 including landlords looking to enforce an order for possession by warrant or writ of possession have been stayed. This stay initially ran until 25th June 2020. It was extended further until 23rd August 2020 and has been extended again to 20th September 2020. Whether or not this will be extended further remains to be seen.
The government also announced on 21st August 2020 that they would be introducing a six-month notice period for possession notices in England. This has already been introduced in Wales.
This was in fact introduced on 28th August 2020 with the Coronavirus Act 2020 (residential tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020.
Coronavirus Act 2020
(residential tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020
This regulation amends Schedule 29 to the Coronavirus Act 2020 (residential tenancies in England and Wales: protection from eviction), so that the notice period will now be 6 months until 31st March 2021.
Importantly however for landlords, the government has listened to their concerns and landlords will only need to give 4 weeks’ notice where tenants have committed anti-social behaviour, and 2 weeks in the case of those who have committed acts of domestic violence.
In the case of tenants in arrears of 6 months or more, only 4 weeks’ notice is now required.
How will Possession Claims be handled from 20th September 2020?
Once evictions start again in England on 20th September 2020the government has advised that the courts will prioritise the most serious cases, for example, rent arrears of more than 1 year and anti-social behaviour.
However, be prepared for further delays as individual courts are expected to deal with just 10 cases per day as they attempt to address the backlog within a COVID compliant environment.
A new Practice Direction 55C (PD 55C) will also come into force on 20 September 2020 and will remain in force until 28 March 2021. This sets out the steps required to reactivate currently stayed claims, as well as procedural requirements which will apply to existing claims and new possession claims.
Has there been any help for landlords?
In short, no. Payment holidays have been available, but the risk of taking a payment holiday is that it will affect a Landlord’s ability to take out further mortgages. Landlords have however, still been able to serve possession notices, but with extended notice periods in certain cases.
There has been mention of helping tenants in receipt of benefits, by increasing the LHS rates further, or by making more funds available for discretionary grants, to cover arrears. This would of course help both landlords and tenants and would avoid a huge increase in tenants receiving a CCJ, which is often a red flag for a landlord.
The future for the rental market
Further legislation is expected within the next year. The Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has argued for the government to bring forward legislation to amend the 1985 and 1988 Housing Acts so that judges are able to use discretion where a tenant falls into arrears due to the pandemic.
They have also urged the government to accelerate its plans to introduce the Renters’ Reform Bill which would abolish ‘No-Fault Evictions’ under section 21 within the next 12 months.
Eviction is the legal process used by a landlord when they want to take back control of their property from the tenant, by forcing them to move out.
In most cases, this will be as a result of the tenant not paying the rent and falling into arrears, or because of anti-social behaviour leading to complaints from neighbours or damage to the rental property.
What protection do tenants have?
Most tenants are protected from eviction by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This Act makes it an offence to evict a tenant without a court order. This protection does not apply to trespassers.
There are certain actions a landlord must take to evict a tenant:
- Issue either a Section 21 or Section 8 Notice giving the tenant a date to leave.
- If the tenant does not leave voluntarily, the landlord must get an order for possession.
- If the tenant refuses to leave on time, the landlord can obtain a warrant for possession and this can be enforced by a Bailiff or Enforcement Officer.
At all times, the correct procedures must be complied with.
There are two ways in which a landlord can take back possession of a property.
These are called: Section 8 Notice and Section 21 Notice – Click below to read more
SECTION 8 NOTICE or NOTICE TO QUIT - Click Here
Also known as a Notice to Quit, a Section 8 Notice is used if your tenant has breached the terms of the Tenancy Agreement during the term of the tenancy.
There has to be a “fault” element. It was enacted by section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. It is most commonly used for rent arears, but there are also other grounds available.
There are in fact 17 grounds under section 8, in which you as a landlord, may seek possession before the fixed term of tenancy has finished.
If you have grounds for regaining possession using a Section 8 notice, the notice can be served at any time during the tenancy.
The notice can be immediate, 2 weeks, or 2 months, depending on the grounds for the notice. We have outlined the most common grounds below with the notice periods (pre-Covid-19).
|Landlord intends to occupy the property as his/her own principal home. (clause must be in the AST at start of tenancy)||
|must order possession|
|The property is subject to a mortgage which pre-dates the tenancy and the lender is repossessing the property to enforce the charge.||
|must order possession|
Both at the date of the service and at the date of the hearing:
· rent is payable weekly or fortnightly at least 8 weeks rent is due;
· rent is payable monthly at least 2 months rent is due;
· if rent is payable quarterly at least one quarter’s rent is more than three months overdue; and
· if rent is payable yearly, at least three months’ rent is more than three months in overdue.
|must order possession|
|Rent due is unpaid on the date on which possession proceedings started and was in arrears at the date the Notice seeking possession was served.||2 weeks||Discretionary|
|Regardless of any arrears the tenant has persistently failed to pay on time. You do not need to show arrears were due arrears when possession proceeding were commenced.||2 weeks||Discretionary|
|The tenant has breached any term of the tenancy agreement (other than one related to the payment of rent).||
|The tenant (or someone living with the tenant) has caused a deterioration in the property, due to neglect. In the case of neglect by the person living with the tenant, the tenant has failed to remove that person||
|The tenant or a person living with the tenant has or is likely to cause a nuisance to neighbours of visitors, or has been convicted of using the property for immoral or illegal purposes, or has been convicted of an offence in that area.||
|The condition of any furniture provided has deteriorated due to the tenant or any other person living with the tenant and the tenant has not removed that person.||
|The tenant, one of the tenants or an agent has provided false information upon which the landlord was induced to grant the tenancy.||
It is often advisable to serve a Section 21 notice, even if the tenant is in arrears, a Section 8 can be more expensive and more likely to be contested. You can of course serve both. Be careful when serving a Notice under Ground 8. Should the tenant reduce the arrears to less than 2 months at any time from the date of service to the hearing date, the Judge at the hearing will not be able to grant a Possession Order.
SECTION 21 NOTICE - Click Here
A Section 21 Notice, sometimes known as “No-Fault Possession Notice” is used by a landlord to repossess a property BUT can only be used to obtain possession at the end of the tenancy.
The benefit of using a Section 21 Notice is that you do not have to list any reasons for possession. If you want to recover arrears in addition to getting an order for possession, you cannot use section 21, unless you bring seperate proceedings afterwards.
A landlord cannot serve this notice within the first 4 months of the tenancy and the notice cannot end before the fixed term of the tenancy.
The notice is valid for up to 6 months. Up until the introduction of The Coronavirus Act 2020, which came into force 26th March 2020, the tenant had to be given 2 months’ notice.
As of the 29th August 2020, until 31st March 2021, the notice period is now 6 months, after which it will revert back to 2 months.
In addition, with all tenancies (other than a statutory periodic tenancy) starting after 1st October 2015, in order to use Section 21, you must provide evidence that you have given your tenant the following information: –
- A copy of the Assured Shorthold
- Tenancy Agreement
- Gas Certificate
- Energy Performance Certificate
- Electrical Safety Report (for all new tenancies after 1st June 2020).
- How to Rent Guide.
- If a deposit has been taken that it is protected in an approved tenant deposit scheme and the tenant is provided with the prescribed information about their deposit.
- If the property is classed as a HMO or it is a property requiring a selective licence, you must have the appropriate licence from the council.
Once you have served a section 21 or section 8 Notice and the notice period has expired, if the tenant has not moved out, you will need to start court proceedings to evict the tenant.
These are governed by Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules which set out the procedure for possession. Failure to follow this will likely result in failure to obtain possession.
There are two types of procedures: –
- Accelerated Procedure
- Standard procedure
The Accelerated Procedure is started by serving a S.21 Notice and can only be used if the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), it is a written tenancy and it is for possession only and does not include a claim for arrears.
Although a separate claim can be brought for the arrears via the usual process for breach of contract or alternatively by serving a Statutory Demand, which is not covered in this guide.
For all those that fall outside of the provisions for the accelerated process, the Standard Procedure must be used as set out within Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
It can often take approximately 9 months from starting court proceedings to obtaining a possession order and enforcement if the tenant refuses to leave. As a result, Landlords may want to consider taking out rental insurance so that they can continue to receive a rental income during that period.
Property Evictions – How can Kumari Hart Solicitors help?
Being a landlord can be stressful. Don’t you just love the model tenants who respect your properties, pay on time and even fix minor things without asking!
All landlords will at some stage have a tenant who is unable to pay rent. The process to evict is technical and time consuming. Let us take that stress away.
We have significant experience with evictions and enforcement. We also speed up the process by using the Sheriff’s Office to enforce the Possession Order. They are much quicker than County Court Bailiffs.
We actively work within the Property Investment Community dealing with everything from drafting tenancy agreements and evictions to recovering monies lent under loan agreements.
Click Here for: OUR FIXED FEES
We can help you with the following:-
• Possession proceedings against tenants.
• Proceedings against squatters and trespassers.
Fixed Costs for Evictions:
Service of a Section 8* or Section 21 Notice:
One tenant – £75 + VAT
Two tenants – £100 + VAT
*Note that where a section 8 notice is more involved, this fee may increase.
Preparing and filing a claim for possession (includes preparation of your witness statement) and Certificate of Service:
1 tenant – £400 + VAT plus court fee of £355
2 tenants – £450 + VAT plus court fee of £355
Attending the initial possession hearing (on non-accelerated cases):
All cases – £200 + VAT
Enforcement via High Court Enforcement Office:
£150 + VAT plus Enforcement office Cost