Two major changes due to the impact of the Pandemic came into force under the laws of England and Wales recently which have a direct impact on eviction and notices periods.
The Government has announced that from 1 June 2021, notice periods in England and Wales will reduce to at least 4 months.
Notice periods for the most serious cases will remain lower as follows:
- anti-social behaviour (immediate to 4 weeks’ notice);
- domestic abuse in the social sector (2 to 4 weeks’ notice);
- false statement (2 to 4 weeks’ notice);
- over 4 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice);
- breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (2 weeks’ notice);
- death of a tenant (2 months’ notice).
Notice periods for cases where there are four or more months of unpaid rent, will reduce to 2 months’ notice from 1 August 2021. This is to support both landlords and tenants and responds to the greater difference between COVID and pre-COVID notice periods for rent arrears.
The current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, will end on 31 May.
Measures are being adopted as part of a phased approach and longer notice periods will remain in place until at least October.
The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on 4 May 2021 and gave individuals in debt the right to legal protection from their creditors.
This means individuals who have debts they are struggling to pay can apply for a breathing space moratorium from approved debt advice providers. If their application is accepted, then for a period of 60 days, creditor(s) will not be able to contact the individual directly in relation to the Debt(s).
Rent arrears is a qualifying debt under the Scheme. Therefore, this means if the Tenant enters a breathing space moratorium, landlords or their representatives cannot chase the Tenant for rent arrears or contact them about the Debt and/or serve a notice on them on the basis of rent arrears. Any notices served for the purposes of rent arrears will be ineffective.
Please note that if the Tenant has obtained a moratorium period they still must continue paying rent and failure to do so will allow the Landlord to apply to the Debt advice organisation or the Courts to have the Moratorium cancelled or to permit enforcement action on the grounds of increasing arrears which did not form part of the Debt subject to the Moratorium, regardless of the Tenant’s situation.
What are the common pitfalls to look out for:
- Using the correct and updated Forms when serving a notice
- Calculating the correct notice period
- Making the sure the notice is served correctly with the accompanying documents
- Changes only apply to notice served from 1 June 2021 and prior to this date
- Bear in mind the tenant may have a debt moratorium order in place.