Government extend COVID-19 emergency measures
The Government extend COVID-19 emergency measures requiring residential landlords to provide extended notice periods.
Measures in Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act were introduced in March 2020 to provide tenants with additional protections from being evicted at a time when income and jobs were looking vulnerable and concerns about stemming the pandemic and protecting the NHS and other public services were paramount.
These additional protections were scheduled to expire on 30 September 2020. However, the latest forecasts and expert opinion suggests that COVID infection rates will likely increase during the winter, which is compounded by the risks presented by the annual flu season.
With the Government’s primary consideration being public health and the potential strain on public services, they have reviewed the measures in Schedule 29 and have extended the period in which these measures are in force until 31 March 2021, In addition, they have also extended notice periods to six months in most circumstances.
On 29 August 2020 the Government brought into force these regulations. Landlords in England are now required to give tenants six months’ notice of their intention to seek possession, except in the most serious cases.
Local lockdowns and a “Christmas truce”
To confuse matters further, an additional Government announcement on 10 September stated evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs if a local area is in lockdown that includes restrictions on gathering in homes.
Bailiffs will also be told that they should not enforce possession orders over Christmas, other than in “the most serious circumstances”. **Update** – The applicable dates were announced on 21 September as 11 December 2020 to 11 January 2021.
More information on the additional guidance can be found here (links to BBC News).
What are the most serious cases?
Rent arrears of six months
If at least six months of rent is unpaid, then landlords will be able to provide four weeks’ notice. Where arrears owed are under six months, landlords will be required to provide six months’ notice.
For secure tenancies (i.e. local authority and housing association properties) in the case of anti-social behaviour (including the grounds for nuisance/illegal or immoral use of the property), domestic abuse, riot, and fraud will return to their original notice periods, before the Coronavirus Act 2020 was introduced.
For Introductory and Demoted Tenancies with cases relating to anti-social behaviour, the notice period will be four weeks. Otherwise, notice periods will be 6 months in line with most other grounds.
In the case of other tenancies (i.e. Assured Shorthold Tenancies), landlords can still commence with an eviction on grounds other than non-payment such as anti-social behaviour, but this will be subject to the discretion of the court on application.
The Government guidance in detail
The Government published public guidance on the original measures in the Coronavirus Act in March 2020. This is for tenants, landlords and local authorities, and sets out what changes were brought in by the Coronavirus Act and how this affects the rights and responsibilities of the key parties. The latest, up-to-date guidance can be seen on the Government website here.
Government extend COVID-19 emergency measures – how RentiD can help
We believe that it’s vital that Landlords and Property Managers remain in close, direct contact with their tenants and keep track of rent payments and any arrears. By using the RentiD Digital Assistant app, staying in touch with your tenants is made easy with all conversations audit trailed for your peace of mind.
To give you even more control and assistance, we are soon launching rent payment and tracking functionality within our Digital Assistant app.
For Landlords and Property Managers looking to find new tenants for vacant properties, it’s vital that prospective tenants are comprehensively referenced to ensure on-going affordability. RentiD offer this at the low price of £36 incl. VAT per tenant.
For Landlords and Property Managers requiring legal council and services to evict problem tenants, RentiD will soon be announcing carefully selected Intelligent Partner legal assistance provision for our customers as an additional service on demand.
Please stay tuned to our blog for updates but in the meantime, for our other post lock down recommendations for Landlords in detail, please click here.