Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should seek specialist advice before acting on issues relating to this article.
In a series of changes that appeared almost overnight, the Government has made sweeping amendments to the notice periods required for rental repossessions. Changes relating to the Coronavirus Act 2020 have extended notice periods for Section 8 and Section 21 possession claims to six months, barring certain cases where exceptional grounds apply.
Section 21 Notice Period Further Extended
There have been at least two major changes to Section 21. As of 29 August 2020, the notice period has been doubled from three months to six (bear in mind that three months was already an extension from the usual two). Proceedings now can be initiated within ten months of serving the notice rather than the existing six, extending the ‘use it or lose it’ provision, as it’s known.
Exceptional Grounds Under Section 8
The changes to Section 8 are much more complicated. Whereas initially the Coronavirus Act 2020 legislated a three-month notice period across the board, the latest amendment attempts to extend notice periods for most cases while prioritising cases with antisocial behaviour, domestic violence, severe rent arrears or false statement. The majority of notice periods have been set at six months with certain exceptional grounds requiring much shorter notice periods; some halved to three months and another not requiring any notice at all.
While this is a return to form (before the legal changes caused by the pandemic, each ground carried its own notice period depending on the reason for possession), these added complications in the current climate might make it tempting for landlords to pick and choose or even combine their grounds for eviction. This is a highly complex area of the law and should be handled by a legal specialist.
Why does this matter now?
In addition to having been made arbitrarily, these changes are particularly important because court proceedings were stayed until 20 September 2020 and many had predicted that the court system would be inundated with possession claims in the next few months, and possibly longer.
How are pending and new notices affected?
The latest changes do not affect notice periods served prior to 28 August 2020. New notices served after 29 August 2020 will be subject to the temporarily modified notice periods. For more information, a free printable Changes to Housing Act Notice Periods Crib Sheet to help you understand the notice requirements on various key dates is available for download. Prefer something with sound and video instead? You can also watch Important Changes to Housing Act Notice Periods, an on-demand masterclass recorded recently.
Guest blog by Fixflo, the market-leading repairs and maintenance management software.
 Technical guidance on eviction notices, (Accessed 21 September 2020)