Residential Evictions To Resume After The 31 May 2021
The government has announced that the COVID-19 related moratorium on most residential tenancy evictions will cease on the 31 May 2021. That’s bad news for many tenants worried about their jobs and rental payments or simply concerned about being given notice to leave their rented property. In this article we look at residential evictions.
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Evictions and COVID-19
Most evictions are on hold until the 31 May 2021 although a landlord can start the eviction process before the 31 May. After the 31 May, a tenant should not be evicted unless the landlord has complied with the proper process. In addition, after the 31 May, a tenant can't be evicted during a period where the tenant or a family member is self-isolating in the rented property because the tenant or a member of their family has COVID-19 symptoms.
The eviction stages
Eviction from a residential tenancy doesn’t or shouldn’t just happen. There is a set process that a landlord has to follow, namely:
- Notice to leave the property – this is referred to as a section 8 or section 21 notice.
- Court proceedings if the tenant does not leave the property by the stated date in the notice.
- Eviction by bailiffs is the final stage of the eviction process. It is this stage of the eviction process that was put on hold by the COVID-19 regulations. A landlord needs to apply for a warrant of possession to secure eviction by bailiffs.
Notice to leave
A common theme of those involved in the eviction process is that they didn’t read the notice to leave or ignored the notice and then continue to ignore letters from the court and court hearing dates.
If you are a tenant and you get notice to leave from your landlord, and you don’t want to leave your rental property, its best to get expert legal advice from a landlord and tenant solicitor as soon as you can and whilst all your options are available to you.
With the COVID-19 regulations on residential evictions it is particularly important to take legal advice. That is because the timing of the notice may affect what action your landlord can take and the court process.
If a landlord has either given invalid notice or if special notice rules apply because of the COVID-19 regulations then this could delay the eviction process.
Pressure to leave a tenancy
If a tenant experiences pressure from their landlord to leave the tenancy before the three-stage eviction process is completed then this is illegal as a landlord can't harass a tenant or, for example, change the locks to the property.
If you are experiencing pressure to leave then its best to take legal advice so your landlord and tenant solicitor can either advise your landlord of the illegality of their actions or negotiate forgoing any rent arrears and a payment to leave before the end of the eviction process. In some situations, a tenant is better off to wait and let the eviction process proceed as the likelihood is the eviction process will take months because of court delays created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can you stay in your tenancy?
If you are a tenant (rather than a lodger or occupying a property under a licence to occupy ) then a landlord can't make you leave without giving notice in accordance with the law and securing a court order. However, after your landlord has given notice, you may be able to negotiate the cancellation of the notice and a new tenancy. For example, many landlords gave notice when rent arrears first occurred at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic but if you now have a new job or are back on full pay after furlough, you may be able to negotiate with your landlord.
What is the difference between a section 8 and section 21 notice?
If you are renting a property on an assured shorthold tenancy you can be evicted using either the section 8 or section 21 notice procedure.
A section 21 notice can be used to evict you if you have a fixed term tenancy agreement and the fixed term has ended or if you have a periodic tenancy ( a tenancy with no fixed end date but, for example, expressed as a monthly tenancy).
A section 8 notice will be used if you have breached the terms of the tenancy agreement. For example, there are rent arrears or the landlord says you have behaved in an antisocial manner.
Can a notice be challenged?
A notice can be challenged if the landlord gave an invalid notice or used the wrong procedure or has not followed the rules.
For example, if you live in a house in multiple occupation a landlord can't serve a valid section 21 notice if the landlord has not secured the correct house in multiple occupation licence from the relevant local authority.
For example, if your tenancy started after April 2007 and the landlord did not comply with tenancy deposit rules, then a valid section 21 notice cannot be served.
For example, if the tenancy commenced after October 2015 and the landlord did not provide you with prescribed information (referred to as form 6a information).
For example, the landlord did not provide a necessary EPC for the property or gas safety check certificate (if there are gas appliances at the property).
There are many other ways that a section 21 notice can be challenged by a tenant so it is best to take legal advice to check that the landlord has actually given valid notice or that they are allowed to use the section 21 notice procedure.
- Checking a section 21 notice is valid
- Advising on a section 8 notice
- Advising on relevant notice periods because of the COVID-19 notice regulations
- Representation at possession proceedings
- Tenancy agreements – including assured shorthold tenancy agreements and tenancy agreements of houses in multiple occupation .
- Deposit protection advice – especially where a landlord has not provided the correct prescribed deposit information within the thirty-day deadline or has failed to use a deposit protection scheme to safeguard a tenant’s deposit. It is best to take legal advice on a potential deposit claim. That is because you may have a deposit claim even if you received notice but you did not get all the required prescribed information or if the deposit form was not signed by the landlord or their letting agent.
- Deposit protection compensation claims – a deposit claim can be resolved either by negotiation by a landlord and tenant solicitor or through a county court claim.
- Deposit dispute claims at the end of the tenancy agreement if the landlord is trying to keep the tenancy deposit and this is disputed.
London based and online landlord and tenant solicitors
For expert legal advice on residential tenancy evictions and possession proceedings call the landlord and tenant team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.