Changes to notice periods for Possession Proceedings

During the last year there have been many changes brought about in respect of serving notices, issuing possession proceedings and enforcing possession orders as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are 2 types of notices that landlords can serve to terminate a tenancy agreement; a section 8 and a section 21 notice. Notice periods under both sections of the Housing Act 1988 were extended to up to 6 months as a result of the disruption from the pandemic. As we start to follow the roadmap out of restrictions, these notice periods will begin reducing back to pre-pandemic levels.

Sections 21 notice period

Currently, the notice period for a section 21 notice is 6 months. This will be reduced to 4 months from 1st June 2021. As it stands, it is understood that the notice period will be reduced to 2 months from 1st October 2021 i.e. back to the pre-pandemic position.

Section 8 notice period

A landlord typically uses a section 8 notice where the tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement. Typically, this is due to rental arrears or anti-social behaviour. The current notice period for section 8 notices where there are some rental arrears is 6 months. However, where the arrears are more than 6 months, the notice period is 4 weeks.

From 1st June 2021, the notice period will reduce to 4 months where the arrears are less than 6 months and will be 4 weeks where the arrears are more than 4 months. As with section 21 notices, it is understood that the notice period will reduce to the pre-pandemic position from 1st October 2021 i.e. 2 weeks for substantial rental arrears (over 2 months). The notice periods for the other grounds under section 8 are also due to change from 1st June 2021.

It is unknown at this stage as to whether a revised notice can be served for a lesser notice period when a 6 month notice has already been served.

It is also unknown as to whether the changes to the way in which possession proceedings are dealt with following the Coronavirus pandemic will continue to take effect post 31st May 2021.

Enforcing possession orders

Lastly, there is currently a ban on enforcing possession orders via a warrant of possession save for in exceptional circumstances. It has now been announced that this ban will end on 31st May as planned. From this date, bailiffs will be able to offer appointments to enforce possession orders. Tenants must be given at least 2 weeks’ notice of the appointment and the bailiff will not be able to carry out the eviction if anyone in the property is self-isolating or has Covid-19 symptoms.

If you are a landlord and you need legal advice on any issue regarding your tenancies, please contact Fiona Hannaford or call her on 01803 403403.

The content of this article is correct as at the date of posting and is for information purposes only. Whilst we try and ensure it is accurate we do not warrant or guarantee that this is the case, nor do we accept any responsibility in the event that it is relied on. The information is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice which you are recommended to obtain.

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