Coronavirus Act 2020 - How does it affect Landlord and Tenant matters? - Walker Foster Solicitors Coronavirus Act 2020 - How does it affect Landlord and Tenant matters? - Walker Foster Solicitors

Coronavirus Act 2020 – How does it affect Landlord and Tenant matters?

Residential Property

The Coronavirus Act 2020 is still in force, and the Government have set about amending the legislation at every stage of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

However, the effects of the Act have had a significant impact on residential lettings and landlords. 

The usual time-consuming procedure for possession has become increasingly so, making recovery for landlords much more difficult.

Section 8

Prior to the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Section 8 possession proceedings allowed landlords to rely upon grounds to recover possession in a much shorter period of time than would have been required for a Section 21 “no fault” notice. However, in many cases, the procedures have aligned, meaning that, other than in serious cases, six months’ notice must be given in any event. 

The legislation relating to the Section 8 procedure has been amended in line with the tides of the pandemic, with the notice period being modified from two months to three months and to even six months after August 2020, depending upon the grounds for possession.

Many landlords continue to face difficulties with no signs of the modified notice period ending due to the changes to specific grounds of eviction, including anti-social behaviour and serious rent arrears. This, in many circumstances, is causing hardship to residential landlords, with notice periods, as below, now being six months where the rent arrears are less than six months. 

We set out below the most common Section 8 grounds and the applicable notice periods.

Tenant

Section 21 

This is the usual residential possession procedure that landlords use to recover possession in “no fault” circumstances. Generally speaking, the process favours the tenant, giving more time and more grace before possession is ordered, subject to the landlord having complied entirely with the requirements at the outset of the tenancy. However, the “no fault” notice period is now six months in all cases, the validity of the notice depending upon the circumstances of the tenancy. This is in comparison to the previous 2 months’ notice period required previously.

It is currently unclear as to when the extension of the notice periods will come to an end.

Given the influx of possession proceedings that are likely to be issued at the Courts upon the pandemic lifting, the Courts will become less tolerant of landlords having not complied with their requirements, which may land residential landlords in hot water during proceedings. 

Walker Foster can provide advice on the above, either at the outset, during or after a tenancy, to ensure that the procedure has been, and will be, followed correctly, from a perspective of protecting the interests of landlords and defending the interests of tenants.

Commercial Property

Landlords of commercial property are also facing difficulties with Government modification, meaning the moratorium on forfeiture has been extended to 30 June 2021.

Therefore, commercial landlords cannot forfeit any lease on the grounds of arrears, even if the arrears are not concerning Covid-19 or the pandemic’s consequences. However, this does not place a blanket ban on forfeiture for any other breach of a lease. 

Walker Foster can provide advice in respect of the lease, the grounds for which a landlord may forfeit and the procedure for doing so. Should any tenants be unsure of their obligations and rights pursuant to their lease, we would advise getting in touch for further advice. 

If you are currently experiencing issues with a Landlord and Tenant dispute in respect of a residential or commercial property, our Dispute & Litigation specialist, Ellie Clements, would be happy to help guide you through your proceedings, whether it be as a landlord or a tenant. 

Ellie is an experienced litigation solicitor specialising in Housing and Landlord and Tenant Litigation, including possession, rights of way and adverse possession matters.

She is both friendly and professional and keen to help both landlords and tenants through the unprecedented circumstances caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

You can contact Ellie by emailing [email protected] or by calling her on 01609 711158.

This article must not be construed as legal advice. All cases are different on their facts and you should consult with us directly on your case.