There is uncertainty for everyone in these difficult times but one of the biggest worries for private tenants is the issue of their homes, and for landlords is the issue of having to pay a mortgage when there may not be any rent coming in. This series of briefing notes addresses the temporary measures that have been put in place by the Government during this unprecedented time and the consequences for both landlords and tenants.
What are the changes – private tenancies under an assured shorthold tenancy or statutory periodic tenancy?
Section 8 and Section 21 notices have both been changed to reflect the new position with regard to notice periods. Any notice served from 26 March 2020 must be in the new form or will be voidable at a hearing. This notice will need to be used until 30 September 2020 and this date may be extended.
In respect of section 21, all of the pre-existing restrictions remain in place (such as requiring service of EPC, How to Rent Book etc). The format of the section 21 notice was formalised into the Form 6A previously for tenancies which commenced or renewed after 30 September 2015 (and can be used for the tenancies commenced or renewed before that date). That is still the correct form number but there is now a further version, therefore care must be taken to ensure the up-to-date version is being used. It will contain the wording “This form has been changed to reflect new legislation which came into force on 26 March 2020 and should be used by landlords in England up to 30 September 2020”. As of the date of this note, this link can be used:
It is still open to the landlord to use either the standard possession process or the accelerated possession procedure.
In respect of section 8, landlords should use Form 3, which has also been amended to reflect the changes and states: “This form has been changed to reflect new legislation which came into force on 26 March 2020 and should be used by landlords in England up to 30 September 2020”. The form can be located at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/assured-tenancy-forms#form-3 and then selecting Form 3.
What are the changes – assured tenancies?
Most social tenants have the benefit of an assured tenancy, be that periodic or fixed term. It is more difficult to evict tenants with such a tenancy and further changes have been made to the notice required.
The forms to give notice under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 have been amended to comply with the Coronavirus legislation and must be used from 26 March 2020. At the time of this note, the following link provides access to the notices for secured tenancies:
It is important to ensure no changes are made to the existing wording on these forms as any amendments may result in the notice being voided and the possession proceedings failing.
Who is affected?
All landlords and tenants, private and social, who issue or receive a notice on or after 26 March 2020.
What should you do?
Landlords ensure that you are using the correct notices as tenants may well raise the issues as a technical defence and given the delays that will be caused by the new legislation, it will be desirable to avoid having the start proceedings again if the Court deems the notice to be void.
Please also note that the guidance states that the Government “… strongly advises landlords not to commence new notices seeking possession during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so.” There may, therefore, be cost consequences if there is not a very good reason and you should therefore be aware of the same and seek independent legal advice.
The power of the Court in this regard hasn’t changed, but it is worth bearing in mind that the notice may be held to be void if it is not on the correct pro forma.
If there are further changes to suspension periods, notice periods, or any other amendments affecting possession proceedings, the validity of the current pro forma should be checked. I will provide further articles as and when the situation changes.
There will be one further note on this matter which will follow shortly.