CLA Housing Adviser Hermione Warmington gives an update on the six-month notice period extension.

On Friday 21 August I wrote a blog on the extension to two measures the Government introduced to protect tenants during the pandemic: lengthening the notice period required to end residential tenancies and suspending possession proceedings. In this, I wrote that the six-month notice period was likely to be introduced at the beginning of October. Alas, without warning the Government acted quickly and on the Friday before the bank holiday, The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 was published which came into force on Saturday 29 August 2020 in England.

This legislation introduces a six-month notice period from 29 August, increased from a three-month notice period which has been in effect since March. This extended notice-period will apply until 31 March 2021.

All section 21 notices for Assured Shorthold Tenancies and most other routes for repossession of residential tenancies will now require a six-month notice period.

There are a few exceptions to this rule where a shorter notice period is in effect:

Rent Act 1977 and Protected Tenancies:

  • (Case 2) Where rent arrears are more than six months – four-week notice period
  • (Case 10A) Where the tenant has no right to rent – three-month notice period

Housing Act 1988 – Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies:

  • (Section 8 Ground 7/7B) Death of a tenant or no right to rent – three-month notice period if no other ground is specified
  • (Section 8 Grounds 8, 10 & 11) Rent arrears at the time of service are not less than six months – four-week notice where not other ground is specified
  • (Section 8 Ground 14) nuisance, annoyance, illegal purpose, indictable offence in locality – no notice period
  • (Section 14) domestic violence and non-perpetrator partner has left, (Ground 14ZA) indictable offence in riot or (Ground 17) tenancy granted on false representation where no other grounds are specified – two-week notice period

This legislation is complex with a lot of scope for error, so, whilst we are here to advise you, if you are considering pursuing repossession through the courts, we recommend instructing an expert practitioner to act for you. Please also note that the Practice Directions for repossessions have also been changing such that, in some cases, a ‘reactivation notice’ will be required before a court will process claims based on older notices. Further information from a leading practitioner on the new practice direction for possession claims can be found here and for reactivation notices can be found here.

This legislation is not retrospective, so three-month notices served before 29 August will remain valid, but it might be important to note that any notices served on Thursday 27 August or Friday 28 August by post will now be invalid as they would count as being served on Tuesday 1 September. Any three-month notice served by hand on Friday 28 August - at least before 4.30 pm - will be valid.

Please also remember that the stay on possession proceedings has been extended until 20 September so claims will not get processed now until then. Landlords can still serve the section 21 notice albeit with the 6-month notice period to “get the ball rolling”.

We are aware that these changes may have detrimental consequences for some of our members. If you have examples of how you have been impacted by these changes, please do let us know so we can use case studies in our lobbying work.

As always, any questions please contact me or your Regional Office.