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The Coronavirus Act 2020 – the impact on residential tenancies

Posted on 2 April 2020 by Sasha Loveridge

The Coronavirus Act 2020 – the impact on residential tenancies

The Government has passed new legislation: The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) which places restrictions on the termination of residential tenancies during this challenging time, to ensure that tenants cannot be evicted from their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of 26 March, landlords must serve their tenants with a minimum of three months notice if they wish to terminate their tenancy agreement. This increases the maximum notice period a landlord has to give by one month. This rule applies to both Section 8 and Section 21 Notices, including those grounds which allow the landlord to give two weeks notice under Section 8 (e.g. rent arrears of two months). This requirement will apply until 30 September 2020. However, the Government does have the power to extend this period up to 6 months, if necessary.

Notices which were served before the commencement of the Act will remain valid for the purpose of issuing proceedings when the landlord is able to (this will be the end of June 2020, at the earliest).

All ongoing housing possessions have been suspended for 90 days and new possession proceedings cannot be commenced during this period – the Court will not issue the Claim Form. Furthermore, County Court bailiffs have also ceased the enforcement of possession orders during this period. The Government also has the ability to extend this period.

The Act does not provide any rent relief for tenants and so tenants must continue to pay their rent when is becomes due, as usual. Therefore, as long as landlords comply with the new notice requirements, they will be able to seek possession of their property.

The Government does however expect landlords and tenants to work together during this difficult time if tenants do find themselves in financial difficulty to establish an affordable repayment plan. It is worth noting that the three month mortgage repayment holiday has been extended to buy to let mortgages, which may assist landlords in this challenging time.

Landlords should be aware that they still have the same obligations to ensure their properties meet the legal required standards – urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be carried out.

Posted in: Lettings/Landlord & Tenant