Changes to the Notices of Seeking Possession

The Coronavirus Act came into force on 25 March 2020 and has made changes to the notice periods for landlords seeking possession of their property under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 (Secure Tenancies) and sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies).

These notice periods were reviewed again on 29 August 2020 and new versions of the prescribed section 8 notice (Form 3) and section 21 notice (Form 6A) have also been published. It is important to ensure that the correct prescribed form is used and the correct notice period is given as failure to do this may mean the Court will not grant a possession order.

The current position is that from 29 August 2020 landlords would not be able to start possession proceedings unless they had given their tenant’s six months’ notice, save for in certain cases where exemptions apply. These are where possession is being sought on grounds of:

  • Rent arrears, where the arrears are at least 6 months;
  • serious anti-social behaviour;
  • nuisance/annoyance; illegal/immoral use of property
  • rioting;
  • domestic abuse (social housing tenancies only);
  • obtaining the tenancy by false statement;
  • death of tenant (housing association landlords only);
  • no right to rent in the UK;

It is important to check the notice period that applies when serving a notice, as the notice periods differ dependent on the ground relied upon and whether it is a secure or assured tenancy. It is also important to note that if the landlord relies on multiple grounds (but not the anti-social behaviour/nuisance and annoyance grounds) the notice period will be the higher of the grounds set out in the notice.

If the landlord serves a section 21 notice, it must give at least 6 months’ notice of the fact that the landlord requires possession. Where a landlord gives a tenant a Section 21 notice after 29 August 2020, the notice will remain valid for an extended period of 10 months from the date it is given to the tenant.

When the legislation is due to expire

The current legislation is in place until 31 May 2021 and is being kept under review. It may not be surprising if these extended notice periods are retained for a longer period in order to offer protections to tenants and to manage the anticipated surge of cases being issued when the notices expire.

We would encourage officers to have a keen eye on the possible changes to legislation as this is prone to change during the pandemic and as we ease back into a form of normality and we will of course keep you updated through Devonshires e-flashes and webinars.

For more information, please contact Donna McCarthy, Partner in our Housing Management & Property Litigation team.

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