As we all highly anticipated, there’s been further updates and confirmation from the Government this week on how landlords should manage evictions and repossessions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many of us have been expecting eviction bans and major delays to all proceedings, so it fills me with great comfort to inform you that you will not be surprised by any of the announcements, which really is an act of mercy! We certainly cannot be wasting our precious and limited medical resources on despairing landlords toppling over from minor to severe stress induced heart-attacks due to unexpected eviction delays and prolonged periods of no rental income. Don’t be surprised if no one cares either.
Rightly or wrongly, we all knew this was coming for us.
I’m going to try and keep this one quick and to the point, so here’s a rundown of the updates to wrap your mullet around…
1) All ongoing housing possessions suspended!
As of today, 27th March 2020, the judiciary has suspended all current housing possession claims for 90 days (but this can be extended if needed), according to the official Gov press release:
…following a decision by the Master of the Rolls with the Lord Chancellors agreement the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in the or any about to go in the system can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. This suspension of housing possessions action will initially last for 90 days, but this can be extended if needed. This measure will protect all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This will apply to both England and Wales.
Thanks, err… Master of the Rolls (WTF? Seriously? Who comes up with it, aye?)!
So if you’re in the middle of a court case… sorry! I’ve been told that disrupted cases will restart as normal as soon as the temporary suspension is lifted (whenever that maybe).
2) Section 8 & 21 notice period extended to three months (from two)
Not effectively a straightout “ban” as we were expecting, but an imminent delay, certainly.
On the 26th of March (yesterday), the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force.
In layman’s and legally unqualified terms (’cause that’s all I knows), the act confirms that from the 26th March 2020 until 30 September 2020 (again, this is subject to change depending on circumstances), any ‘notice to quit‘ (i.e. if you have grounds for eviction based on a breach, rent arrears, for example) or ‘notice seeking possession‘ (i.e. if you want to exercise your right to a “no fault” repossession at the end of the fixed term) requires three months notice, instead of the usual two months. Essentially, a one month extension to notice periods has been enforced.
That means we can still serve notice, but we need to provide our tenants with at least three months notice in all cases. Any notices served before the 26th March 2020 will remain valid. However, with all court proceedings shutting down for at least 90 days, I suspect it’s going to be extremely difficult to shift reluctant tenants that are clinging onto the stair handrails, anytime soon.
God help anyone who has to serve notice during this period, I’m sure it will go down like a lead turd. But I understand if it needs to be done. Notably, I saw the hashtag “#CoronavirusVillians” trending yesterday, which featured the likes of Richard Branson, Gordon Ramsay, Mike Ashley, and Philip Green, all of whom have been judged unkindly for their
cutthroat shrewd business decisions during this he crisis. Just saying.
3) New S8 & S21 forms must be served during this period!
While the Coronavirus Act is in play (from 26th March 2020 up until 30 September 2020, at least), landlords must use new forms to serve notice (with at least three months notice), provided by the Gov:
- Section 21 – replaced with a new Form 6A – available for download here.
- Section 8 – replaced with a new Form 3 – available for download here.
The regular S21 and S8 forms will NOT be valid while the Coronavirus Act is enforced, so don’t use them from 26th March 2020. Don’t let me down!
Need tenant eviction / repossession legal advice?
Just before publishing this blog post, it dawned upon me that the sensible thing to do would be to reach out the MD of LegalforLandlords – to check if they’re able to continue providing free legal support for my subscribers (landlords) during this palava.
I’ll be right back.
*1 hour later*
I’ve been assured every division of their business is still operational and, I quote, “all Legals notices, updates, compliance has been rolled out so we’re as up to date as we can be as of today. We’re here to assist as always but bear in mind our phone lines have been busy.”
So if you’re in a bind and would like free landlord legal advice…
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*Make sure you quote exclusive promo code to qualify for free advice and special rates: PIPLANDLORD
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EPC Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards Update
On a side note, I should probably remind everyone that the upcoming change to EPCs is still a real thing, even though it’s probably the least of anyone’s concern right now. Energy efficiency and fresh produce with a limited shelf life was cool last month, not so much this month.
This change has nothing to do with the Coronavirus Act, but it’s still a legal requirement that shouldn’t be ignored (I guess?).
On 1st April 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force. This required all landlords to ensure their rental properties in England & Wales have a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’ for new tenancies and renewals.
As of 1st April 2020, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards will apply to all existing tenancies, not just new ones or renewals.
If you need to order an Energy Performance Certificate, you can book an assessment online from LettingAProperty for £69 inc VAT (starting price). You can also Google around for local suppliers. Needless to say, I’m not sure what the availability for assessors will be during this time. The word “limited” comes to mind.
As always, thoughts and words of encouragement all welcome!
Stay safe, my friends xo
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be construed as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.