Last week, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that there would be an extension to the landlord eviction ban of late, providing some extra support over the winter months. We understand that landlords and tenants have been hit hard during the lockdown period, with uncertainty and confusion over what will happen next. So here we will lay out what the latest government announcement means for both landlords and tenants, together. As we have come to learn that nothing is concrete in this new post COVID world we find ourselves in, it is also entirely possible that the government will release amendments to this recent announcement. You can always access the most up to date forms here.
At the start of lockdown, to prevent additional hardship for those who had been affected by COVID, the government had issued a complete ban on evictions nationwide. After the initial three-month period, the government further extended the ban for two months more.
On the 29th August that the government formally announced recent changes to the notice period landlords have to give when serving a section 21 or a section 8 notice under the Housing Act 1988. In other words, renters affected by coronavirus will continue to be protected from eviction for another 4 weeks. This means that in total, according to the Housing Secretary, no legal evictions will have taken place for 6 months and courts will not hear repossession cases until 20th September 2020. What’s more, landlords in England will now need to give tenants a six-month notice period of eviction. This also means that if the Tenancy Agreement has a Break Clause saying the Landlord can end the tenancy by giving two months’ notice, they will still have to give the 6 months’ notice. All in all, most tenants will be able to stay in their homes until the end of March, minimum. To gather a more detailed sense on what Section 21 and Section 8 notices entail, click here.
This may mean that landlords wishing to sell their property in time for the stamp duty holiday may miss out on that opportunity, unless the Government decide to make changes to the end date in December. Which is entirely possible, let’s be fair. For most Buy To Let landlords who have bought homes with the sole intention of renting, this shouldn’t have much of an effect. When courts do reopen for eviction purposes, top priority will go to those facing issues such as antisocial or criminal behaviour from tenants or extreme rent arrears.
If you are struggling financially due to all of this, mortgage payment holidays are still available and may be an option worth considering. Like other homeowners, landlords can apply for a payment break through their lender to help with financial difficulties – a scheme running until the end of October. For more information, take a deep breath and peruse our handy Guidance for Landlords during COVID-19 article.
For many tenants, the government action to support tenants over the winter means that once the eviction ban ends on the 20th September, landlords will have to further give tenants at least half a year to vacate their property once notice has been served, excluding special circumstances where there are serious mitigating factors, such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse, will this notice period cease to apply, the Government has said. If you are a tenant in need of guidance due to the pandemic, please see our Guidance for Tenants during COVID-19 article. (It’s very calming, well written and informative, if we do say so ourselves).
Let’s get cheesy for a second: it asks us to work together. No, seriously. We are still in a pandemic, and while the government are doing what they can to address people’s needs, it’s more important that landlords and tenants work together in this difficult time. Come on, hold hands neighbourinos and sing it with us: ‘we’re all in this togeeether’. As landlords and tenants, we can support one another in accessing the help on offer.
You might wonder what on earth you can do as a tenant to help your landlord, the person who just wants the rent you simply can’t give them right now. Well, if you give your landlord the evidence that you have lost your job due to the pandemic, this could help your landlord receive a mortgage payment holiday. You would therefore receive a rent holiday while getting back into full time employment again.
Whilst it may feel like a bit of a quagmire of confusing information and legislative U turns, by staying informed and in communication with each other we can find mutually beneficial outcomes in this otherwise seemingly negative situation. For more information and advice, take a look at our linked articles and moreover at our Useful Guides and Insights page.
Article by Sophie Taylor at Barefaced Studios
Photography by Odera Okoye at Barefaced Studios
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