In the past few months, the world has been turned upside down, whether the concerns relate to health, wealth or employment situations.
Due to the current health crisis, the Government has put in place a series of packages to help secure finances for people and businesses. However, it is likely that Covid-19 will cause life to be very different for most people when we eventually come out of this crisis.
We have been approached by our landlord clients with concerns as to what they can and cannot do during the crisis. Questions such as “My tenant hasn’t paid. What can I do?” Or for landlords who had already begun the eviction process, “What will happen to the hearing listed to evict my tenant?”
These are valid concerns, especially in this unprecedented landscape, and the difficulty is that the situation is changing all of the time. Thankfully, our expert team are on hand to answer your questions and help guide our landlords through this difficult time.
On the 26th March 2020, the Government passed into law the Coronavirus Act, which would also prevent any landlord from attempting to evict their tenants.
However, with regard to any ongoing possession proceedings, providing the notice and court possession pack were filed prior to 26th March 2020, then the “Coronavirus law” would not apply. Any Notice served on the tenant after this date, with the landlord planning commencement of possession proceedings, would be more than likely dismissed at court due to the new law.
More recently, the Government extended the housing possession proceedings ban further again. This meant that the extension, which was to be lifted on 23rd August 2020 for proceedings to resume, would now be extended until the 20th September 2020. However, this is not to say that the landlord could not serve the relevant and correct Section 21 or Section 8 Notice to the tenant. It would mean that the landlord would have to state on the Notice that no possession proceedings would begin for at least six months.
Why six months and how long will this go on for? Whilst the landlord can serve the relevant Section 21 and or the Section 8 Notice, they will now have to state that the possession proceedings will not begin until after the six-month notice period and unfortunately, this will be, for the time being the “norm” until March 2021. It is thought the Courts will be backlogged thus only prioritising previously issued cases. However, it should also be mentioned that whilst in the majority of eviction cases, the six months’ notice would be required, this would not include evictions that involve anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse claims. It would appear those types of matters would still fall into the normal notice period for a Notice to Evict.
New amendments have been added to the required notices dealing with the Act, so it is important to use the right Notices.
If a tenant is not paying the rent, consideration should be given as to whether there is a guarantor. The majority of tenancy agreements require the additional security of having a guarantor adding to the agreement. This provides landlords with peace of mind knowing that should the tenant default on rent, there is the guarantor to proceed against and attempt to recover the rent through a separate small claim.