Section 21 Update

Since the onset of Covid-19, the government have been keen to ensure that no one is in danger of losing their home due to the impact of the virus, and they have gone about this in the rental sector by introducing changes to the usual notice procedures. We wrote previously about the extension of the original two-month notice period for section 21 notices, as this was extended to three months, However as of the 29th August 2020 this period has now been extended to six months.

This means that, for example, if you have a tenant on a fixed term tenancy which is due to end on 1st December 2020 and you decided at the end of September 2020 that you would like possession of the property, the earliest you would be able to ask them to leave would be the 1st April 2021.

This of course might not be an issue in many cases, but it may cause some issues should you need the property back more urgently. For example, if you were a landlord living overseas who is forced to come back to the UK and needs the property back as somewhere to live.

There are also changes to the Section 8 notice procedure. This is the notice that is used should there be a breach of tenancy such as non-payment of rent, along with other specific “grounds” or reasons for possession, as set out in the Housing Act.

Pre Covid-19 if a tenant was in rent arrears of more than two months, then it would be possible to serve a Section 8 notice to give them 14 days to pay the rent or vacate the property. This was then extended but has now been extended again to six months’ notice, unless there are rent arrears of six months or more, in which case only four weeks need to be given.

It is important to note that should a tenant not vacate at the expiry of the Section 21 notice or the Section 8 Notice then it is necessary to apply to court for possession, a process which used to take months under usual circumstances. This will now take even longer once the courts open again on the 20th September 2020 as it may take a year or more to clear the backlog of cases which has built up.

It is therefore more important than ever to ensure that when moving a tenant in, comprehensive references are taken up, as although the law changes are designed to protect tenants who are in genuine need, it would be all to easy for unscrupulous and disingenuous tenants to take advantage of the new legislation. This is why at Hazells we carry out the referencing ourselves rather than relying on an external agency carrying out a “box ticking” exercise, meaning a more thorough job is done as a result and we are able to pick up on things other agents may miss.

As ever, if you have any questions or wish to talk to us about any aspect of residential lettings, please do not hesitate to contact either Chris Oakes or Andrew Kettle on 01284 702 626 or via the contact button above.