An update on eviction during the coronavirus pandemic
25 September 2020 by Priya Patel
During the pandemic, evictions were temporarily paused. But as the court begins to deal with evictions again, what procedures must be followed when a landlord chooses to evict a tenant? And what can a tenant do if they feel their landlord has acted illegally? Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, Priya Patel from the FJG’s Dispute Resolution team has provided some answers on a few frequently asked questions.
What is the current eviction process? How does this differ from the process before the pandemic?
The eviction ban ended on the 20th September 2020. Eviction hearings will now resume in courts but the most serious cases such as domestic violence and/or anti-social behaviour cases will be given priority. The Coronavirus Act 2020 has been amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (the ‘Regulations’).
Under s8 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended), a Landlord has to establish one of the statutory grounds for seeking possession by serving a notice whereby most of the statutory grounds allowed the Landlord to give at least 2 months’ notice to the tenant save for in the case of limited serious grounds; whereby a Landlord would be allowed to give two – four weeks’ notice.
Now, Landlords must give 6 months’ notice under a Section 21 to terminate an AST for any notices served on or after 29th August 2020. This restriction will remain in place until 31st March 2021.
If an eviction notice was served before the temporary pause on evictions, what timescales are the tenants now entitled to?
If a tenant was served with a notice before the 26th March 2020, Landlords were required to give 2 months’ notice when serving a Section 21 notice. The 2 month notice period would also apply to most of the statutory grounds.
What happens if a tenant has been served a Section 21 Notice after the 26th March 2020?
If a tenant has been served with a Section 21 Notice after the 26th March 2020, but before the 28th August 2020, a Landlord was required to give the tenant 3 months’ notice. This notice is the same for most of the statutory grounds if a tenant has been served with a Section 8 notice under the Housing Act.
What, if any, differences are there between private tenancy evictions and tenants of council homes and housing associations?
A tenant of a council or housing association can be evicted more easily if they have either an introductory council tenancy or a housing association starter tenancy. A tenant must be provided with a legal reason for an eviction known as ‘ground for possession’. A tenant can also face eviction if they inherit a council or housing association tenancy. It is important for tenants to seek legal advice if they are told the council is going to evict them following the death of a tenant.
If a tenant feels their landlord has been unfair and acted illegally, how can a Solicitor help?
There are lots of ways in which landlords may act illegally when seeking to evict tenants, or when seeking to implement a rent increase.
It is important for tenants to know-how are the intricacies of the law work and in doing so they should seek legal advice from specialist property litigation solicitors or from the CAB in order to understand their rights better.
There are lots of ways in which the landlord may act illegally when seeking to evict a tenant or when seeking to implement a rent increase.
What top tips would you give to someone concerned about the prospect of eviction?
- A tenant struggling to pay rent should immediately speak to their landlord and organise a repayment plan to pay off the arrears. A Landlord can agree not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead accept a lower level of rent so that a tenant is able to pay off the arrears at an agreed later date.
- Gather as much as evidence as possible, such as receipts for paid rent and/or any communications with the landlord
- Ensure any notice given by the landlord is valid.
If you are a landlord who requires advice on what you can do next in relation to possession proceedings, or a tenant who is facing eviction, please contact the FJG Dispute Resolution team on 01206 700113 or by email to [email protected]. Alternatively, book an appointment for our free, virtual Landlord & Tenant advice clinic.
For more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.