When Can Landlords Evict During COVID-19Written By PropertyLoop September 13, 2021
The government has revealed that come the 1st of October 2021 the amount of notice a landlord is required to provide their tenants when service them with a possession notice is finally returning to pre pandemic levels.
This long-awaited return to pre COVID notice periods has been met with open arms by many landlords that were critical of the eviction ban introduced over lockdown and the additional notice period required during the pandemic, stating that they were stripped of control over their buy to let investments, with no distinction being made by the government between tenants that were unable to pay their rent, and those that simply wouldn’t.
Notice periods from the 1st of October 2021 will permit landlords that are currently unable to deal with occupants that have accumulated serious rent arrears to begin eviction proceedings after only two weeks’ notice. If the owner of the rental property serves their tenant with a section 8 notice, specifically siting ground 14 as a result of the tenant’s continued anti-social behaviour, the proceedings can commence after only 24 hours; however, if the ground 7a is used as the tenant has been found in breach of an order or injunction served after being convicted of a criminal offence, the notice period will return to one month. As of the 1st October 2021 the serving of a section 21 notice, and a section 8 notice with ground such as the landlord wanting to move in, mortgage repossession, the development of the property or when alternate accommodation becomes available, will only require 2 months’ notice, as before the Coronavirus outbreak.
Since the initiation of nationwide lock down measures back in March of 2020, the amount of notice a landlord is required to provide their tenants when seeking to reclaim possession of the property has changed a number of times.
With the implementation of the Corona Virus Act 2020, the UK government granted vulnerable renters additional notice before their landlord was able to enact eviction proceedings. Initial reforms to the amount of notice required before proceedings can begin saw section 8’s and section 21’s served between the 26th March 2020 and the 28th August 2020 require at least 3 months’ notice in most cases, including cases of serious anti-social behaviour, where the tenant has no right to rent in the UK, or where the residents had accumulated significant rent arrears.
Notices issued to tenants between the 29th August 2020 and the 31st May 2020 require a minimum of six months’ notice. Further to this these changes took aim at tenants that had accumulated significant rent arrears, granting landlords additional control over their eviction, seeing the notice periods return to that of before the pandemic.
The period required before eviction proceedings could begin was once again amended on the 1st June 2021, seeing the required amount of notice fall from six months to only four, providing the notice was served after the change to existing regulations. This also saw the amount of notice required to be provided by a landlord that is seeking repossession of their rental property after the death of a tenant return to pre COVID levels, at only 2 months’ notice.
Can I Be Evicted During Lockdown?
As it currently stands if a landlord wishes to serve a possession notice to the occupants of their rental property, a minimum of four months’ notice must be provided. As previously mentioned, the current regulations of notice periods have seen many changes over the last 18 months, with the current requirement to provide at least four months’ notice being instated since the 1st of June 2021.
It is also important for both landlords and tenants to note that such notices cannot be back dated, with any notices of eviction that have been served before the 1st of October 2021 having the appropriate amount of extended notice, typically either four or six months.
What Are My Rights as a Landlord During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Although many of the reforms the government has introduced have been put in place to aid tenants facing financial hardship throughout the pandemic, landlords have not been left ignored. Whilst many rental property owners expressed frustration over the eviction ban and the extended notice periods as they prevented owners from addressing arrears and maintain what was left of their rental income, the UK government responded by granting buy to let mortgage holidays.
Both home owners and landlords were able to request a mortgage payment holiday from their providers, relieving them of their payments for up to six months. In most cases, in order to take out the payment holiday mortgage providers first demanded that landlords were up to date with their buy to let repayments and the pandemic has impacted their tenants’ income, leaving them unable to meet their commitments to pay rent.
Once the mortgage payment holiday came to an end, landlords paid a slightly increased rate to account for the “missing” months and any additional interest that was accumulated over this time. Although this would result in the landlord paying more in the long run, this buy to let mortgage payment holiday will have effectively safeguarded their credit score, as this would have been detrimentally affected by defaulting on the due mortgage repayments.
Can Landlords Perform Repairs and Inspections During COVID-19 Pandemic?
The legal obligations of both landlords and tenants regarding the maintenance of the rental property has remained unchanged throughout the pandemic, with owners still being liable to attend to any reports of damage or risks to the tenant’s safety. With this being said, an exception can be made for those that are currently self-isolating, unless the repair work regards an immediate threat to the occupants of the property.
Can Tenants Refuse Viewings During COVID?
Whilst the landlord may have stated within the tenancy agreement that they will need time to show future tenants around the property toward the end of the fixed term, they must still obtain the permission of the occupants before conducting the viewing and gaining access to the property.
Whilst 3D virtual property tours have gained tremendous traction during the pandemic, allowing renters to view their future home from the convenience and safety of their sofa, if in person viewings must take place tenants have been advised to leave all doors open so the handles do not have to be touched, with all surfaces being cleaned before and after the viewing takes place to minimise the risk of transition.
Further to this, unless the occupants of the rental property have been ordered to self-isolate then the landlord is still required to carry out the appropriate gas and electrical safety checks, repairs and any routine inspections or remedial work.
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