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Eviction of residential tenants and the Coronavirus Act 2020 – Section 21 Notices

Residential Property - Samuel Phillips

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020, meaning this emergency piece of legislation is now, officially, law. But what effect has this had on residential tenancies?

In the first of this two-part blog, Commercial and Litigation Solicitor Thomas Cumming considers the effect of the Coronavirus Act 2020 has had on possession proceedings under both Section 21 Housing Act 1988 and Section 8 Housing Act 1988.

Section 21 Notice:

A Section 21 (Housing Act 1988) Notice is the first step a landlord would take to gain back possession of a property. This is commonly referred to as a Section 21 Notice.

Landlords often use a Section 21 Notice to ask their tenants to leave a property either at the end of a fixed-term or during a tenancy with no fixed end date. Landlords should ensure they have provided their tenant with:

  • the properties EPC;
  • the government’s ‘how to rent’ guide; and
  • a current landlord gas safety certificate

all when the tenant moved into the property. Landlords should also ensure they have placed their tenants deposit into a ‘deposit protection scheme’ and provided their tenants with the details of the scheme within 30 days of the start of the tenancy. Failure to do so could render any Section 21 Notice invalid.

The effect of the Coronavirus Act 2020

Firstly, the government guidance is that landlords are strongly advised against commencing or continuing possession proceedings without a very good reason to do so. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, a “very good reason” is not defined, however, it is widely accepted that a landlord is highly unlikely to be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three-months’ notice.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 has amended the standard form 21 Notice (form 6a) to state that the landlord must give the tenant not less than three (previously two) months notice stating that he required possession of the property. This is currently due to remain in place until 30 September 2020. This is not quite the “eviction ban” as promised by the government; however, it does offer further protection to tenants.

This new law does not apply retrospectively. Therefore, any Section 21 Notice served by a landlord prior to 25 March 2020 will still be valid and the landlord could potentially still obtain a possession order for the property. However, with the courts adjourning off any ‘non-essential’ hearings, when the eviction hearing is likely to take place remains unknown.

Whether you are a landlord concerned about evicting a problem tenant or a tenant concerned about losing your home, please contact Thomas Cumming on or 0191 255 0210 to discuss further.

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