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Coronavirus: advice for UK landlords in relation to residential tenancies

The Coronavirus Act 2020 has amended section 8 and section 21 notices under the Housing Act 1988 in that the relevant statutory notice to be given to the tenants prior to issuing possession proceedings has increased, from 14 days to three months, in order to protect those who cannot pay their rent.

Recognising the additional pressures that the virus may put on landlords, the government has also confirmed that the three month mortgage payment holiday has been extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties.

In cases where possession is required, it is important to start that notice procedure as soon as possible given that the court process cannot now be started earlier than 3 months.

However, prior to serving the notice, it might be sensible to discuss with your tenants a rent repayment plan, or engage lawyers to do this on your behalf.

How can I terminate the tenancy?

Landlords can terminate an assured shorthold tenancy (“AST”) either by using the section 8 or section 21 procedure, as outlined below:

Section 8 procedure   

To obtain possession of a property let on an AST by using the procedure 8, a landlord should set out grounds for obtaining possession of a property. The most common ground is a failure to pay rent by a tenant.

Section 21 procedure 

If you are the landlord, you can use the section 21 procedure whereby you do not need to rely on any of the grounds for possession. However, you should check to make sure that you are eligible to apply. For guidance only purposes you should consider the below listed questions prior to serving a section 21 notice:

  • Had you joined a Tenancy Deposit Scheme on entering into an AST when a tenancy deposit was paid and have you provided prescribed information to the tenant?
  • Did you comply with legal obligations by providing your tenant with the gas safety certificates and energy performance certificates upon entering into the tenancy?
  • Have you provided the tenant with certain prescribed information relating to the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant under an AST such as “how to rent guide”?

For further information or advice on these issues, please contact Richard Darbinian, James Murray or James Taylor.

Richard Darbinian: Richard.Darbinian@wards.uk.com

James Murray: James.Murray@wards.uk.com

James Taylor: James.Taylor@wards.uk.com


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