Header- Phone Number

01752 510913

Header – Email Address

info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk

SWLA Online General Meeting – a Success!

Posted on October 23rd, 2020 -

Thank you to our members who joined us for our first online General Meeting via Zoom on Wednesday. We have received great feedback from many members;

”A great Zoom meeting held the other night. Good format with slides and speakers, with very relevant subjects and our chairman was good fun too! It was interesting to hear from Mark Chubb and how he and the council are prepared to help and support us. I know times are tough for many people, including us Landlords and I only speak for myself and the people I’ve recommended to join The Landlords Association, but the membership fee we pay is outstanding value for money.”

”We found David Aggiss’ session particularly useful – great insights into what’s happening in the market, and very well delivered.  We would welcome a return visit by David at some point as he is clearly well-informed and adds a lot of value to understanding of the SWLA landlord. We had our EICR re-done earlier this year so took the opportunity then to make sure we were briefed on this topic.  It was good to hear from Mark Chubb – not least to get a better sense of the sort of relationship which PCC wishes to have with the PRS and its responsible landlords.  His session was certainly comprehensive.”

A huge thank you to our speakers;

David Aggiss – Three Sixty Mortgages

Mark Chubb – Plymouth City Council – Community Connections

If any of our members missed the meeting and would like the presentation slides sent, please contact the office.

With the current situation, we anticipate that our future meetings will be held by Zoom until we can all safely meet face to face again.


Tradepoint Deals (offer ends 02 November)

Posted on October 16th, 2020 -

3 for 2 on coloured emulsion.

4 for 3 on laminate flooring and tiles

20% off wallpaper

https://www.trade-point.co.uk/#


North Somerset Council – Properties Required

Posted on October 14th, 2020 -

Need help letting your property?

You may want to consider the North Somerset Council Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS)

North Somerset Council VPRS are seeking properties from private rented landlords to help resettle vulnerable refugee families, giving them a chance to rebuild a safe, secure life in North Somerset.

Benefits to you!

  • Rent paid directly to you, the Landlord;
  • Dedicated North Somerset Council, Family Support Worker who will visit the family on a regular basis;
  • Dedicated Volunteers that can help with a wide range of issues;
  • Guaranteed Local Housing Authority rate payment with discretion to provide top up for the first year;
  • Access to tenant ready grants (up to £1,000) and interest-free tenant ready loan (up to £5,000);
  • To make a difference to a vulnerable family seeking refuge in the UK.

Interested? For further information, please contact:

Caroline Crossley, VPRS Project Officer for North Somerset Council on

01934 427275 or 07824085818


Notice of a General Meeting via Zoom

Posted on October 9th, 2020 -

If you would like to attend this meeting, please to register with the SWLA office who will send you further details. You can email info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk or phone 01752 510913. Book early to avoid disappointment, we have limited spaces available.

Notice of a General Meeting via Zoom

Wednesday 21st October 2020

Log on for a prompt 7.30pm start

Speakers will include: –

Krissy Salmon from Interbay
Market conditions specifically around investment/BTL lending

Availability of lending – updated criteria

BBL/mortgage holidays

Leasing to local authority/supported living associations – points to note

Mark Chubb – Plymouth City Council – Community Connections

New legislation around Electrical Installation Condition Reports(EICR) and other updated landlord legislation

If you have any questions for the speakers, please email them to the office prior to the meeting and we can forward them on to be covered, where possible. If you have a question during the meeting, you can use the chat box to submit questions which we hope can be answered, time permitting.

Melanie Cotterill – Roper James Solicitors has kindly provided a slide presentation for our members to view at their leisure. Topics covered briefly are Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Business LPAs.

This presentation will be emailed to attendees of the meeting.


Consultation – Landlord Responses Required -”Improving the energy performance of privately rented homes”

Posted on October 8th, 2020 -

Consultation details Issued: 30 September 2020

Respond by: 30 December 2020

Enquiries to: Tel: 020 7215 5000

Email: PRStrajectoryConsultation@beis.gov.uk

Please see the following gov.uk link for further information and consultation documents; https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/improving-the-energy-performance-of-privately-rented-homes


Trade Point – B&Q – 10% Discount from 12th October 2020

Posted on October 7th, 2020 -

Good news for SWLA members! SWLA Trade Point members will receive a discount of 10% on most purchases at B&Q/Trade Point from 12th October 2020. This is a huge rise from the current 5% discount.

Most items across the entire B&Q/TradePoint store are included (see exclusions below). The discount also applies when ordering online on the TradePoint website  https://www.trade-point.co.uk/click-collect/ Remember that it also includes promotions, so if there is a 3 for 2 deal or 10% off, you will receive the 10% discount on top.

The exclusions are:

  • Gift Cards
  • Clearance items
  • Selected Smart Home Products
  • Supplier quoted specially made items
  • Concessions and Services ……  (e.g. Delivery charges and Key cutting etc)



Green Homes Grant – Now Open for Applications

Posted on October 1st, 2020 -

https://www.gov.uk/apply-green-homes-grant

Apply for a Green Homes Grant

Use this service to apply for a grant of up to £10,000 towards the cost of making your home more energy efficient.

If your application is successful, you’ll receive a voucher to give to your chosen TrustMark-registered tradesperson.

The Green Homes Grant scheme is only available to home owners and residential landlords in England.

Start now

Before you start

Check you’re eligible for a Green Homes Grant before applying.

To apply, you’ll need:

  • the name and date of birth of the property owner or owners
  • the name and date of birth of anyone living in the property who is receiving benefits
  • a quote for the work from a TrustMark-registered tradesperson
  • the TrustMark licence number of your chosen tradesperson

Help and support

Read more about the Green Homes Grant scheme.


Coronavirus – An Important Letter to HMO Landlords from Plymouth City Council

Posted on September 25th, 2020 -

OFFICIAL; To Private Landlords

Office of the Director of Public Health Ruth Harrell
Director of Public Health Plymouth City Council
Windsor House
Plymouth PL6 5UF
T: 01752 307835
E: ruth.harrell@plymouth.gov.uk
www.plymouth.gov.uk

Date: 24th September 2020


Dear Sir/Madam,


We are writing to you to ask for your help and support to protect the residents of our city from the threat of COVID 19. As you know only too well there have been worrying developments with the rise of cases nationally and the Government has this week announced more restrictions as part of a concerted effort to tackle this rise.

We are worried that what used to be normal behaviour of young people could potentially help spread the virus.

From this weekend, pubs, bars and restaurants will close by 10pm and we are aware that this is likely to result in an increase of house parties. If this is more than six people, it is against the law and your tenant could be fined £200.

As a responsible landlord, we are asking you to remind all your tenants as a
matter of urgency that any tenancy agreement requires them to abide by the law.

The laws are changing rapidly, so we understand the confusion. To keep things really simple:
 The rule of six – no one is allowed to hang out in groups larger than six –
indoors or outside
 follow social distancing rules – maintain two metre distance wherever
possible or one metre if you are wearing a face covering
 If there are more than six people sharing a property that is classed as a
single household and a bubble and they are allowed to socialise


As a city we have come together to tackle issues as they have arisen and continue to do all we can to keep businesses open. Recent successes include close cooperation with the police, the Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner, the Plymouth Retail Against Crime team and the council’s licensing and public health teams all working really closely to enable people to socialise safely on the Barbican.

We were made aware of an issue of young people gathering outside properties in large numbers last weekend and the police are talking to the owners. This work will continue, but as none of us can be everywhere at all the times, we need your support on ensuring evenings end safely.

Other tips:
 Ensure there are good hygiene measures in your properties especially in
shared areas
 If your tenants catch COVID, the advice is they stay in their usual residence – i.e. your property rather than go anywhere else in case they spread the virus and all those in same household must isolate for 14 days
 For information about what to do visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidanceon-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-
guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings#university

 For a reminder of the rule of six visit
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rule-of-six-comes-into-effect-to-tacklecoronavirus

Yours faithfully

Ruth Harrell
Director of Public Health
Plymouth City Council


New Version of the EPC Certificate Launched

Posted on September 25th, 2020 -

On the 19th of September 2020, the government launched a new version of the EPC certificate. The certificate has a new modern layout and has features exclusive to the digital version.

This marks the third version of the EPC Certificate and has been designed with the future in mind. The layout is much simplified allowing for new interactive features. More information applicable to Landlords and Tenants can therefore be displayed.

Prominent on the certificate is the EPC Certificate Number which appears to be the same as the Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs). The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC) announced in June that this is the first step on the road to Property Passports.

To compliment the new EPC Certificate the UK government have launched a new website to host the England and Wales EPC Register. This can be found at https://find-energy-certificate.digital.communities.gov.uk/ .

This replaces the old EPC Register website which was hosted at www.epcregister.com.

Searches can still be carried out by postcode or certificate number but in addition they can now be carried out using only the street name and town.

The new register also holds the records for display energy certificates (DECs) for public buildings and air conditioning inspection certificated and reports.

Article from Andrew Reeves.


Electrical Safety First Webinar.

Posted on September 22nd, 2020 -

Martin Allen, from Electrical Safety First will be giving an overview of how the new Electrical Safety Regulations affect you as a private landlord in a webinar organised by Bristol City Council on 1 October 2020 at 2pm.  There are a maximum of 100 places, so please register your interest by emailing: private.landlords@bristol.gov.uk and type in ESF Webinar. 

A third of places are booked up so please register soon.


Courts Reopen for Possession Cases – Government Release Possession Guide for Landlords

Posted on September 21st, 2020 -

Gaining possession has become much more complicated as a result of Coronavirus. Please read the following guide to fully understand your rights and responsibilities when considering starting or proceeding with a possession case;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-the-possession-action-process-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants/understanding-the-possession-action-process-a-guide-for-private-landlords-in-england-and-wales

An overview of the possession action process

If you have made a claim for possession which is already in the court system, see Part 1.

Before taking steps to recover possession of your property, you should consider discussing any underlying problems with your tenant, either directly or through a mediation service, and try to resolve these without recourse to court action. This could save you time and money. See Part 2 for more information and advice on how to resolve problems with your tenant without needing to go to court.

Stage 1: Serve a notice of seeking or requiring possession

Give your tenant a Section 8 or Section 21 Housing Act 1988 notice, specifying the date by which you would like your tenant to leave your property.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19): 

In England 

Notice periods given to tenants from 29 August 2020 to at least 31 March 2021 must be at least 6 months for most grounds (including Section 21 notices). However, there are certain cases where a shorter notice period may be provided. These include those in relation to anti-social behaviour (including rioting), domestic abuse, fraud and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of at least 6 months’ rent. 

For more detailed information about notice periods between 29 August 2020 and 31 March 2021 see Section 8 notices and Section 21 notices.


In Wales 

Notice periods given to tenants from the 26 March to 23 July must be at least 3 months for all kinds of notice. Notice periods given on or after 24 July 2020 must be at least 6 months, other than for grounds relating to anti-social behaviour which remain at 3 months.

Stage 2: Make a possession claim

If your tenant does not leave by the date specified in the notice, you can apply to the court for a Possession Order. You must attach evidence explaining how the coronavirus pandemic has affected you and/or your tenant.

The tenant can submit a defence to the court. In the defence, the tenant may put forward legal reasons why a possession order should not be made, the tenant may put forward a counterclaim, or the tenant may ask for extra time to vacate due to extreme hardship. If a defence is received, the court will send you a copy.

If your claim is based on a section 21 notice and you have used the court’s ‘accelerated procedure’, the judge can consider the claim documents, and any defence received, and make a Possession Order without a hearing taking place.

If you made a claim for possession to the courts before 3 August, you need to notify the court and your tenant that you wish to continue with your claim. This is called a ‘reactivation’ notice.

Stage 3: Be available on the review appointment date

You will be sent a date when the judge will review the court file, and a date for the substantive hearing. At least 14 days before the review date, you will need to confirm to the court that you will be contactable on that date, send the court an electronic copy of all of the case documents and confirm that you have also provided these to your tenant.

On the date of the review there will be duty scheme advice arrangements in place to assist the tenant and promote settlement. You should ensure that you will be available to discuss the case with your tenant and where possible reach a settlement with them without the case progressing to a substantive hearing.

Stage 4: Attend the possession hearing

There will be a possession hearing 28 days after the review date, at which a judge will decide whether to make a possession order or give other case management directions.

Stage 5: Apply for a Warrant of Possession

If a Possession Order was granted and your tenant does not leave by the date specified in the order, you can apply to the court for a Warrant of Possession. The tenant can apply to suspend the Warrant. A county court bailiff will enforce the warrant and carry out the eviction.

Important: To manage the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, local lockdown restrictions may be introduced in the postcode in which your property is located. If the local lockdown places restrictions on entering premises, a bailiff will not be able to enter your property to carry out the eviction. You will be notified of any changes in the progression of your case by the court. In addition, the government has issued guidance to bailiffs that they should not carry out evictions in the weeks leading up to and over Christmas other than in the most serious circumstances.

1. Claims already in the court system

Claims for possession made before 3 August 2020

If you have an outstanding Warrant of Possession

If you have a Warrant of Possession but no longer require an eviction to be carried out – for example, because your tenant has left the property and has cleared their possessions and returned their keys – you should let the court know as soon as possible that you do not want the eviction to go ahead.

The notice of bailiff’s appointment that you received from the court will provide you with contact details, the claim number and the warrant number. You should contact the court, quoting the relevant details, to let the bailiff know that attendance at the property is no longer required.

Eviction appointments which were cancelled as a result of coronavirus will be rescheduled. When setting eviction dates bailiffs will, as far as possible, prioritise those warrants previously identified as priority cases where this information is known to them. Outside of this, warrants will be prioritised in date order. A notice of the eviction appointment will be sent to both landlord and tenant. Appointments will be scheduled with 14 days’ notice and the tenant will be able to apply to suspend the eviction.

If you have a Possession Order and the date on which the tenant was due to give up possession has passed, but you have not yet applied for a Warrant of Possession

In the light of the coronavirus pandemic and the effect that this may have had on your tenants, you should carefully consider whether you wish to proceed with the eviction. You are still able to apply for a Warrant of Possession. However, the eviction may take longer than usual due to the large volume of cases currently in the system.

You do not need to take any steps if you decide not to seek an eviction at once and you will still be able to rely on the Possession Order if you decide to take your property back at a later date. You can apply for a Warrant of Possession at any time during the period of 6 years after the date a Possession Order is made.

If you have made a claim but have not yet had a court hearing

If you made a claim for possession before 3 August 2020, it is up to you to inform the court if you wish to proceed with your claim. You must do this by sending a completed reactivation notice to the court and delivering a copy to your tenant. This applies to both accelerated and standard possession claims.

If you made a claim for possession before 3 August 2020 and do not inform the court that you wish to continue, your case will not proceed. However, you will have 6 months in which to inform the court that you wish to proceed with your case. If you do not serve a reactivation notice by 4pm on 29 January 2021, your case will be automatically stayed and you will need to make a formal application to restore it.

You should first check the Court and tribunal website to see if the court to which you sent your claim is open and will be processing cases.

You can send your reactivation notice to the court via email or post.

The reactivation notice must include any information you have about how the tenant and any dependants, such as children, living with the tenant has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. For example, if they have suffered a loss of income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic or they have been shielding. If your claim concerns outstanding rent arrears, you must also provide an updated rent account for the past 2 years. You must provide the reactivation notice, and information about the effects of the pandemic, in order for your claim to proceed. You should consider whether making a possession claim is appropriate before confirming that you wish to proceed. For example, if you are making a claim on rent arrears grounds you may wish to negotiate a rent repayment plan with your tenant rather than proceed with the possession claim.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service have drafted a template reactivation noticewhich you may wish to use.

You or your tenant can ask the judge to consider whether the hearing can take place remotely, by putting a request in writing and sending it to the court. Both parties will need to agree that the hearing can take place remotely, however it will be the judge who makes the final decision as to how the hearing proceeds.

If you have multiple claims at the same court, you must provide a reactivation notice for each individual claim but can file them alongside a covering letter detailing all of the cases which are in train at that court centre, and giving the following details:

  • all issued and suspended cases by case number
  • those cases you wish to be listed and those which you are content to be further suspended or dismissed
  • ranking of the cases you wish to be listed in categories of priority (high, medium, low)

If the court has made case management directions in your case (for example at an initial hearing)

If you have received case management directions, you will need to file a reactivation notice (see above). However, you will also need to attach either:

  • a draft order setting out additional or alternative directions (including proposing a new hearing date) which are required; or
  • a statement in writing that no new directions are required and that an existing hearing date can be met

You can also provide a statement in writing setting out whether the case is suitable for a remote hearing.

Claims for possession made on or after 3 August 2020

If you made a claim for possession on or after 3 August, it will be processed in due course. You will not need to provide a reactivation notice, but you should provide information about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on your tenant to the court (see COVID-19 Case Marking). If you have not yet done so, you should provide this information to the court as soon as possible.

As with claims for possession made before 3 August 2020, you or your tenant can ask the judge to consider whether the hearing takes place remotely, by putting a request in writing and sending it to the court. Both parties will need to agree that the hearing can take place remotely, however it will be the judge who makes the final decision as to how the hearing proceeds.

How long will the court process take?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many cases will have built up which the courts need to process, and the courts will not be operating at their full capacity. Therefore, it is very likely to take longer than the usual 8 weeks for your claim to be heard by a judge. You will receive a minimum of 21 days’ notice of the date on which the review will take place and the substantive hearing (if needed) will be a minimum of 28 days after this. We ask for your patience during this time. We would encourage you to continue to engage with the tenant to explore what can be achieved in terms of assisting the tenant to access benefits, or a discretionary housing payment, or agreeing a repayment plan, as appropriate. We also encourage you to seek out organisations that can support a discussion between you and your tenant before the court hearing date.

You can find more information about this at the Civil Mediation Council’s website.

You can also access the Housing Ombudsman Service for training on dispute resolution if you are a member.

There are several services available in the market which specialise in resolving disputes in the private rented sector (such as TDS Resolve, PRS Mediation Service and Resolve by Flatfair) which you may wish to consider.   Judges are responsible for listing cases for a hearing in court. As a guide, the following types of case will be listed with priority.

(a) cases with allegations of anti-social behaviour, including Ground 7A of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988 and Section 84A of the Housing Act 1985;

(b) cases with extreme alleged rent arrears accrued, that is, arrears equal to at least (i) 12 months’ rent or (ii) 9 months’ rent where that amounts to more than 25% of a private landlord’s total annual income from any source;

(c) cases involving alleged squatters, illegal occupiers or persons unknown;

(d) cases involving an allegation of domestic violence where the claimant is a Social Landlord and possession of the property is alleged to be important for particular reasons which are set out in the claim form (and with domestic violence agencies alerted);

(e) cases with allegations of fraud or deception;

(f) cases with allegations of unlawful subletting; and

(g) cases with allegations of abandonment of the property, non-occupation or death of defendant;

(h) cases concerning what was allocated by an authority as ‘temporary accommodation’ and is specifically needed by the authority for reallocation as ‘temporary accommodation’.

Subject to the above, priority will be given to claims issued before the stay commenced.

As the courts and bailiff procedures resume, you may have to wait for a bailiff appointment to become available if a Warrant for Possession has been issued. It is important that you communicate to the court if you no longer need the appointment, for example in circumstances where your tenant has agreed in writing to vacate the property and returned their keys.

2. Do you need to take court action?

The majority of tenants abide by the terms of their tenancy agreement and pay their rent on time. Most tenancies end with the agreement of the landlord and tenant without the need to go to court. If you want your tenant to leave your property because your circumstances have changed or they have broken the terms of the tenancy agreement, you must follow strict procedures. If you do not, you may be guilty of illegally evicting or harassing your tenant.

Seeking possession through the courts should only be used if and when you have tried all other means of resolving your situation. Claiming possession through the court will cost between £400 and £500, not including legal fees, and will take time to resolve.

Wherever possible, you should ensure that you pursue other options to resolve your situation first. This will most likely be quicker and cheaper. You should communicate with your tenant directly to discuss problems such as rent arrears or anti-social behaviour as openly and frankly as possible, and to try to find a solution which works for you both. For more information, see the sections in this guidance on ‘What to do if your tenant is in rent arrears’ and ‘What to do if your tenant is committing anti-social behaviour’. We have also worked with the National Residential Landlords Association to produce a guide for landlords on how to manage arrears and avoid possession claims in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Where possible and appropriate, we would encourage landlords to consider alternative dispute resolution such as mediation to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve disputes, without the matter needing to go to court. 

It is important that you engage with your tenant and try to find out more about their personal circumstances. If you make a claim for possession, the court will ask you for information to determine whether your tenant is vulnerable; for example whether they have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic (including if they are clinically extremely vulnerable or have been shielding) or if they are in receipt of welfare benefits. The court may not be able to progress your case until you provide this information. If your tenant is struggling as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you should consider if you could delay seeking repossession of your property and find a way to support your tenant until such a time as they might be better able to move to another property.

We recognise that in some cases, making a claim for possession will be unavoidable, for instance if your tenant is building up rent arrears and refusing to communicate with you, or if you wish to move into the property and are unable to reach a voluntary agreement with the tenant to end the tenancy. However, it is important that court time is put to the best possible use. Where possible, you should use the court process only as a last resort.

If you do need to apply to the Court to claim possession of your property we would strongly advise you to seek legal advice before proceeding.

3. What to do if your tenant is in rent arrears

If your tenant has built up rent arrears, you should communicate with them in the first instance to gather more information about their personal circumstances and how they may be able to pay off their arrears.

An early conversation between you and your tenant can help to agree a plan if your tenant is struggling to pay their rent. This can include reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead accept a lower level of rent or agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date. It is likely to be cheaper to accept a slightly lower rate of rent, rather than arranging for a new tenant to move in.

You are also encouraged to consider mediation. Mediation allows an independent third-party to assist those involved to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their dispute, without the matter needing to progress through court. This includes agreeing to a rent repayment plan. Mediation can be quicker and cheaper than court action.

There are several services, as well as individual mediators, available in the market who specialise in resolving disputes in the private rented sector. There is no single list of suitable mediators in your area, but you may wish to check:

  • online
  • with a consumer advice service
  • with your local council; or
  • with a legal professional

You should attempt to resolve any issues with rent arrears with your tenant before issuing a notice or claim for possession. A constructive, open dialogue between landlord and tenant is more likely to lead to agreement on a workable solution for both parties which avoids the need for court action.

4. What to do if your tenant is engaging in anti-social behaviour

In some circumstances, you may need to act because your tenants are committing anti-social behaviour. This could be more minor disruptive behaviour (for example against housemates or neighbours in a House of Multiple Occupation), or it could be serious and/or criminal. Whilst possession action is one method of resolving such issues, there are alternative courses of action which you may wish to consider prior to, or instead of, serving a notice requiring or seeking possession.

You should always act carefully when negotiating with tenants who are accused of anti-social or disruptive behaviour. Take care not to jeopardise your own or others’ safety and take advice from the appropriate source (for example, a solicitor, your local authority or the police), if you are unsure how to proceed.

Some disruptive behaviours could be resolved through a frank and full discussion by the parties involved. You should talk to or write to your tenant in the first instance, informing them of the complaints which have been made against them and making clear that their behaviour is unacceptable. You should keep a record of the conversation. If this does not work, you should give the tenant a final warning and make a record of this.

Sometimes, a tenant is not the right fit for the property, particularly in a House of Multiple Occupation, for example if they do not get on with their housemates. You may wish to discuss ending the tenancy by mutual consent. However, you should not harass or force the tenant to leave without following the formal possession process.

When responding to severe instances of anti-social behaviour, it may be worth bearing in mind that the police, local authorities and other local agencies have a range of flexible tools and powers that they can use to respond quickly and effectively to anti-social behaviour, as provided by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. These include:

  • Civil Injunctions which are available to the police, local council and other local agencies on application to the courts and can impose restrictions or positive requirements on individuals who have engaged or threatened to engage in anti-social behaviour in order to prevent them from engaging in this behaviour;
  • Community Protection Notices which can be used by the police or the local authority to deal with ongoing problems or nuisances which are having a persistent or continuing and detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality;
  • A Closure Power which the police and local authorities can use to close premises of which use has resulted in, or is likely soon to result in, nuisance and disorder; and
  • Criminal Behaviour Orders which can be issued by a court and impose restrictions or positive requirements on an individual convicted of a previous criminal offence, who has engaged in behaviour that has caused, or was likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress.

You may wish to read the statutory guidance for frontline practitioners on the use of powers to address anti-social behaviour.

You should consider contacting your local authority or the police in the first instance. If a criminal offence, such as criminal damage or assault, has taken place you should contact the police straight away.

If, having tried alternative means of resolving anti-social behaviour being perpetrated by a tenant, you feel that you have no option but to seek possession, there are grounds for you to do so under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

Under new regulations which came into force on 29 August 2020, the notice periods for Ground 7a, for Serious Anti-social behaviour, and Ground 14 for nuisance or annoyance, or the illegal or immoral use of the property, were returned to the lengths which they had previously been prior to the passing of the Coronavirus Act on 26 March 2020. This means that Ground 7a has a minimum notice period of 4 weeks (for periodic tenancies) or 1 month (for a fixed term tenancy), and for Ground 14 proceedings can be commenced immediately after the service of the notice.

However, these Grounds will need to be proved in court to facilitate the granting of a Possession Order. Ground 7a is a mandatory ground, which means that the judge must grant possession if you can prove that the ground has been met. Ground 14 is a discretionary ground, which means that the judge can decide whether to award possession, if the ground has been met. For more information about the notice periods which need to be provided for anti-social behaviour under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 from 29 August 2020 please see Annex A.

5. Stages of the possession process

Stage 1: Serving a notice of possession

You can give your tenants a Section 8 notice if you have a reason which corresponds with a specific ground; for instance, they have broken the terms of the tenancy. You can also give your tenants a Section 21 notice if you want the property back after a fixed term ends or during a periodic assured shorthold tenancy. It is also possible to serve both a Section 8 and Section 21 notice to your tenant. You can get legal advice about which of these options would be best to take given your circumstances.

You should bear in mind that, in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, a tenant has a minimum of 6 months’ security. This means that the court will not make a possession order which takes effect before the tenancy has been in place for 6 months.

Serving your tenants with a section 8 notice

Section 8 notices In England 

Under the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020, a notice seeking possession which was given to a tenant from 26 March to 28 August 2020 must have provided them with a notice period of at least 3 months. These provisions have now been extended, meaning that a notice seeking possession which is given to a tenant from 29 August 2020 until at least 31 March 2021 must provide a notice period of at least 6 months in most circumstances. However, there are exceptions to this in some instances:

  • For notices in relation to anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, rioting and false statement, the required notice periods have returned to their pre-Coronavirus Act 2020 lengths. In some cases, this means that proceedings for anti-social behaviour can be brought immediately. Notice periods on these grounds otherwise vary, depending on the type of tenancy and ground used, between 2 weeks and 1 month.
  • Where at least 6 months of rent is unpaid, a minimum 4-week notice period will be required. If less than 6 months of rent is unpaid, then the notice period is 6 months.
  • Where a tenant has passed away or is in breach of immigration rules and does not have a right to rent a property in the United Kingdom then a minimum 3-month notice period is usually required.

If a landlord wishes to serve a new notice in order to take advantage of the new shorter notice periods required for certain serious cases, they should, where they are issuing a new notice of the same type, withdraw the first notice before they serve a new notice. 

Landlords may find it helpful to seek independent legal advice regarding these matters. 

For more information on the minimum notice periods for each ground, please see Annex A

Section 8 notices in Wales 

Notice periods given to tenants from the 26 March to 23 July must be at least 3 months for all kinds of notice. Notice periods given on or after 24 July 2020 must be at least 6 months, other than for grounds relating to anti-social behaviour which remain at 3 months.

How to serve a Section 8 notice

To give your tenants a Section 8 notice, you must fill in Form 3.

If you are serving a Section 8 notice in England, you can find the prescribed form 3 at: ‘Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy’.1

Important – you must complete the form correctly. Use the guidance notes on the form to help you.

You can get legal advice on how to fill in Form 3 and how to give it to your tenants. The possession process in Court may be delayed if you do not fill out the form correctly.

You may also choose to seek the advice of a professional association.

You need to specify on the notice the specific grounds you are using to seek possession of your property.

You can use mandatory grounds. These are grounds where the judge must order the tenants to leave your property if you can prove the ground. Examples include the grounds for 8 weeks’ rent arrears and convictions for anti-social behaviour.

You can also use discretionary grounds. These are grounds where the judge can only order the tenants to leave your property if you can prove a discretionary ground and the judge considers it reasonable to make an order. Examples include grounds for other breaches of the tenancy agreement.

Serving your tenants with a Section 21 notice

In light of the many difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge everyone to show compassion and exercise flexibility as far as possible. We therefore encourage you to only seek possession where you have grounds to do so, having tried to resolve any issues with your tenant first. We strongly recommend that you only seek possession through a section 21 notice (without grounds) if there are no other alternatives to doing so.

Section 21 notices in England

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), from 26 March 2020 to 28 August 2020 the minimum Section 21 notice period that you can give to your assured shorthold tenants was 3 months. From 29 August 2020 until at least 31 March 2021 the minimum notice period is 6 months. That means that there must be at least 6 months between the date your tenant receives the notice, and the date after which you specify they must leave the property. You can make a claim for possession in the county court if the tenant has not left by the date specified in the notice. However, if you have agreed with a tenant that a longer notice period will be given, for example if there is a written tenancy agreement that provides for a longer period of notice, that longer period will apply.

Section 21 notices in Wales

Notice periods given to tenants from the 26 March to 23 July must be at least 3 months for all kinds of notice. Notice periods given on or after 24 July 2020 must be at least 6 months for Section 21 notices.

How to serve a section 21 notice

You can only use a Section 21 notice if your tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy. You cannot use it if your tenants have an assured tenancy.

You can only use a Section 21 notice to ask your assured shorthold tenants to leave your property:

  • after a fixed term tenancy ends
  • during a tenancy with no fixed end date, which rolls over at particular intervals of time – for example, on a month by month or week by week basis – known as a ‘periodic’ tenancy

In England, you should use Form 6A to give notice if the tenancy was started or renewed after 30 September 2015. In Wales, you must explain in writing that you are serving an eviction notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Important – you must complete the form correctly. Use the guidance notes on the form to help you. You can get legal advice on how to fill in Form 6A and how to give it to your tenants. The possession process in Court may be delayed if you do not fill out the form correctly.

In England, your Section 21 notice will only be valid if you have:

  • Given your tenant a minimum of 6 months’ notice to leave if you served your notice on or after 29 August 2020 until at least 31 March 2021. This is because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you served your notice on or after the 26 March 2020 until 28 August 2020, you should have provided your tenant with a minimum of 3 month’s notice. This is because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you served your notice before 26 March 2020, you should have provided your tenant with a minimum of 2 months’ notice.

  • Allowed at least 4 months to elapse, since the start of the original tenancy, before serving the section 21 notice.
  • Protected the tenant’s deposit in a government-approved deposit protection schemeand given the tenant information about how the deposit is held. You must provide the tenant with certain details about the deposit known as ‘prescribed information’. This includes details of the deposit protection scheme, confirmation of the amount held, your contact details and information on how the tenant can get their deposit back when they leave.
  • Obtained a licence for the property from the local authority, if the property needed one.
  • Started court proceedings in time. The court process must generally be started within ten months of serving the notice, if the notice is served on or after 29 August 2020.

If you served notice on or before 28 August 2020, you must generally make a claim for possession in the court within 6 months of giving the notice.

However, in the case of a periodic tenancy where more than 6 months’ notice is required, the proceedings may be started up to 4 months after the date specified in the notice as the date after which the tenant must leave the property.

  • Provided the tenant with the right documents giving information about the property and their rights and responsibilities as a renter. This includes a valid gas safety certificate if there is a gas installation in the property, an energy performance certificate, and the version of the ‘How to Rent’ guide which was most up to date when your contract started or was renewed.
  • Completed the required repairs and allowed at least 6 months to elapse, if you received an improvement notice or notice of emergency remedial action from the local authority following a complaint made by the tenant.
  • Repaid to the tenant (or otherwise properly accounted for) any prohibited payments that you may have charged them. The law says that you are only allowed to take certain permitted payments. These are set out in the Tenant Fees Act 2019 guidance for landlords.

In Wales, your Section 21 notice will only be valid if you have:

  • Given the tenant at least 3 months’ notice to leave, if you gave notice from the 26 March to 23 July. If you served notice on or after 24 July 2020, you must have given your tenant at least 6 months’ notice months’ notice to leave. The notice must be given in writing.

If you served your notice before 26 March 2020, you should have provided your tenant with a minimum of 2 months’ notice.

In a fixed term tenancy, you can serve a Section 21 notice at any time, but it cannot end until the end of the fixed term. In a periodic tenancy notice can be given at any time, but the appropriate notice period must be given and the date specified in the notice as the date after which the tenant must leave the property, must by the last day of a period of the tenancy.

  • Protected the tenant’s deposit in a government-approved deposit protection schemeand given the tenant information about how the deposit is held. You must provide the tenant with certain details about the deposit known as ‘prescribed information’. This includes details of the deposit protection scheme, confirmation of the amount held, your contact details and information on how the tenant can get their deposit back when they leave.
  • Registered or obtained a license under the Rent Smart Wales scheme, where the Section 21 notice is given after 23 November 2016.
  • Obtained other licences from the local authority, if the property needed one, such as in HMO accommodation.
  • Provided the tenant with the right documents giving information about their home. This includes a valid gas safety certificate if there is a gas installation in in the property and an energy performance certificate.
  • Repaid to the tenant (or otherwise properly accounted for) any prohibited payments that you may have charged them. The law says that you are only allowed to take certain permitted payments. The list of prohibited or allowable payments is set out in the Renting Homes (Fees Etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 guidance for landlords and agents.

Providing Proof of Service

You will need to be able to be able to show the court that you have served notice correctly and given the right amount of notice. This will assist the judge when making a decision on whether to grant a Possession Order. You should always check the tenancy agreement to see what methods of service it allows you to use – the methods mentioned below are the most common.

Keep a copy for yourself

You will need to provide a copy of the notice to the court as part of your application for possession. It is essential you retain a copy of the document for yourself. Take the copy once you have completed, signed and dated the notice.

Personal service on the tenant

If you are serving the notice on the tenants personally for example handing it to them, then the best way to prove the tenants have been served with the notice is to have the tenants sign and date all copies of the notice (including your own). Alternatively, if they refuse to sign the notice but do accept the document, then you can fill out a certificate of service (N215) form and include that in any paperwork you send to the court.

Posting to the tenant

You can usually serve the notice by first class post or by another next day delivery service. Consider taking dated and timed photographs as evidence of posting. If you decide to use a tracked service, one that does not require a signature is best and you should retain the receipt. You can fill out a certificate of service (N215) form and include that in any paperwork you send to the court.

Leaving the notice at the property

It is always best to see whether the tenant is at home before putting the notice through the letterbox. If the tenant is present, you can serve the notice personally. If you are serving by posting through the letterbox, consider taking photographs or taking a witness with you. You can fill out a certificate of service (N215) form and include that in any paperwork you send to the court.

If you deliver the notice by hand, consider attaching a handwritten note or writing on the envelope, explaining, for example, what the notice means, why you have served it and, where appropriate, whether you are willing to come to an agreement with your tenant in preference to commencing court proceedings. This may encourage the tenant to answer and respond.

You may also wish to consider informing your tenants about our companion guide, Understanding the possession action process: A guide for private residential tenants in England and Wales, which contains more information about the steps which a tenant should take when served with a notice seeking or requiring possession.

Stage 2: Making a claim for possession

If your tenant does not leave by the date specified in the notice, you can apply to the court for a Possession Order. For all claims, you must also provide a statement setting out what knowledge you have about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the tenant and their dependants. This includes accelerated possession claims.

Standard possession claims

When using the online service

You can use the possession claim online service if you are claiming possession on the grounds of rent arrears for example where you have used a section 8 notice and have specified one or more of the rent arrears grounds.

The service lets you fill in court forms online and see how the claim is progressing. You will need to provide a rent statement covering the preceding 2 years, showing what payments were due and received to demonstrate how the arrears claimed have accrued. You will also need to provide a notice setting out what you know of how your tenant has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

It costs £325 to issue the claim.

Contact the Possession Claim Online help desk if you need help or advice.

Telephone: 0300 123 1057 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm ccbc@justice.gov.uk

When using the paper-based application process

Fill in the paper standard possession claim form (N5) and the Particulars of Claim (Form N119) and post or deliver it to the county court that deals with housing cases for the area in which your tenant’s property is located. You can find the details online on the Courts and tribunal website.

You can use this method if:

  • you have served a section 8 notice on grounds other than rent arrears, for example anti-social behaviour or other breach of tenancy, or
  • you have served a section 8 notice on rent arrears grounds but do not have access to or do not wish to use on-line facilities, or
  • you have served a section 21 notice but the tenant owes you rent and you want the court to order possession and make a money order at the same time

You must also attach a notice to the claim setting out what you know of how your tenant has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The court may not be able to progress your case until you provide this information. See below, COVID-19 case marking.

It costs £355 to apply. Send a cheque made payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’ to the court with your completed paperwork. You must provide the court with an additional copy of each of the documents you are submitting, for the court to serve upon your tenant, and you should keep a copy for yourself. If the tenancy is in joint names, you will need to send an additional copy for each person.

Important – you must complete the forms accurately and include the correct evidence to support your claim. If you do not, you may have to start the process again.

What happens next

The court will send you notice that the claim has been issued, and it will serve the claim upon your tenant, giving your tenant an opportunity to respond to the claim by submitting a ‘defence’. You should keep the notice of issue safe as it shows the claim number which the court has assigned to your case (which you will need to quote in all future communications/documents) and gives you information about the next steps.

If your tenant submits a defence to the court, the court will serve you with a copy. The court will inform you of the review appointment date, and also the date and time of the substantive hearing.

Accelerated possession claims

You can apply for an accelerated possession order if your tenants have not left by the date specified in your Section 21 notice and you’re not claiming rent arrears. It costs £355. If you want to claim rent arrears you can use either the:

How to apply

Download and fill in the form for properties in England or the form for properties in Wales (N5B) and send the completed form to the county court that deals with housing cases for the area in which your tenant’s property is located.

You must also attach a notice to the claim setting out what you know of how your tenant has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The court may not be able to progress your case until you provide this information. See below, COVID-19 case marking.

Include a copy of the completed form and of any documents you have attached to it, for the court to serve upon your tenant (if it is a joint tenancy, send a copy for each person). Keep a copy of everything for yourself. Important – you must complete the form and notice accurately and include the correct evidence to support your claim. If you do not, you may have to start the process again.

What happens next

The court will send your tenant a copy of your application and will give your tenant an opportunity to respond to the claim within a stated time (14 days). At the same time, the court will send you notice of issue of the claim. The notice of issue will give you the claim number which has been assigned to your case (which you will need to quote in future correspondence and documents) and it will inform you of the deadline given to your tenant for responding to the claim. At the bottom of the notice of issue is a ‘written request for a possession order’ form which you will need to complete and return to the court at a later date.

Your tenant may submit a defence to the court putting forward reasons why, in the tenant’s view, you may not be entitled to possession. In that case:

  • the court will send you a copy of the defence
  • the court is likely to fix a date and time for a hearing
  • you may wish to seek legal advice

Your tenant may also submit a response to the court accepting that you are entitled to possession but asking for more time due to extreme hardship. In that case:

  • the court will send you a copy of the response *the judge may be able to make a decision on how much additional time the tenant can stay in the property, up to a maximum of 6 weeks or may decide to list the case for a hearing

If your tenant does not respond to the court within the time allowed: * you should complete the ‘written request for a possession order’ form (the bottom half of the notice of issue) and submit it to the court; after that * a judge will consider your claim and, if satisfied, will make an order for possession

Information you must provide to the court on how your tenant has been affected by COVID-19

When making a claim for possession, you must provide a notice setting out how, to your knowledge, the defendant (your tenant) and any dependants, such as children, that form part of the tenant’s household, have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

If you have no knowledge of your tenants’ circumstances you should make this clear, including information about any attempts made to discuss matters with them.

You should send the notice giving this information to the court with your claim for possession. This applies to both standard and accelerated possession claims. The court may not progress your case until you provide the required notice.

COVID-19 case marking by the landlord

We also recognise that you may need to seek repossession of your property as a direct result of financial difficulty that you have suffered in the COVID-19 pandemic. Where this is the case, you should mark your application as a ‘COVID-19’ case. To do so, you should give brief details of particular hardship you have faced as a result of COVID-19, and whether you have received assistance under a COVID-19 scheme, for example if you received a mortgage holiday on your buy-to-let mortgage. This should also be sent in alongside the claim form.

Marking your case as COVID-19 related will assist the court in processing your claim, for example in deciding the order in which cases will be listed for a hearing. The judge may also use the case marking to assist in decision making, in cases where they are able to exercise discretion

COVID-19 case marking by the tenant

Your tenant can also choose to mark the claim as a COVID-19 case when completing their defence form. To do so, they would need to provide brief details of any hardship they have faced, and indicate:

  • whether there were material arrears outstanding before March 2020
  • whether they have been placed on the government’s Job Retention (furlough) scheme, and whether they offered or paid a related proportion of rent
  • whether they have obtained universal credit since March 2020, and whether they have offered or paid a related proportion of rent
  • whether they have been unable to work because of COVID-19
  • whether they are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and have been shielding
  • what proposals they have to pay the rent

You will be able to see whether the tenant has marked your possession claim as a COVID-19 case when you are provided with a copy of the defence form. If the tenant marks the case as a COVID-19 case, this could also affect the order in which it is listed for a hearing. It may also affect the judge’s decision at a Possession Hearing, in those cases where they have discretion.

If a tenant has marked your possession claim as a COVID-19 case, you should give careful consideration about how you want to proceed.

Given the information they have provided, you may wish to reach an agreement with your tenant not to seek possession and instead find an alternative means of resolving the situation, for example agreeing a repayment plan for any rent arrears.

Stage 3: The review

For Section 8 cases and Section 21 cases where the landlord has used the standard possession procedure, you will receive a communication providing the date of the review and the date of the substantive possession hearing. You will be allocated a review date at least 28 days before the possession hearing.

At least 14 days prior to the review, you will be required to email the court at the address provided. The email must include the following:

  • An electronic copy of all case documents to the court, including the claim form and particulars of claim, information about how your tenant has been affected by coronavirus and the tenant’s defence, including whether they have marked the case as being affected by COVID-19. You must confirm that you have provided relevant information about your tenant’s circumstances to the court. This includes information about the effect of the pandemic on your tenant and his or her dependants, and about their vulnerability, disability and welfare benefit position, with specific reference to those who may have been shielding.
  • Confirmation that you have provided a copy of all of the information about the case to the tenant, in hard copy and electronically if they have provided their email address.
  • Confirmation that you are available on the day of the review to discuss the case (by telephone or face-to-face), with the tenant or duty scheme (or other) adviser.

If you provide this information, and the tenant also confirms that they can attend, a meeting will be arranged on the date of the review between your tenant and their duty solicitor or adviser. You and your legal representative if you have one should be available (on the telephone if necessary) so that your tenant and their adviser can contact you to discuss the case. Where possible, you should seek to agree a settlement without the case progressing to a full possession hearing. For example, you could agree to a rent repayment plan to pay off any outstanding arrears.

On the day of the review, the case will be considered by a judge. The judge will take a view on your case based on the paperwork submitted and also on what has been discussed and agreed upon by you and your tenant. The judge may stay or adjourn the case if an agreement has been reached between you and your tenant. If an agreement has not been reached and your paperwork is in order, the judge is likely to make an order setting out the steps to be taken by you and by your tenant, to provide the court and each other with the evidence and information necessary to allow the substantive hearing to take place. If your documents are not in order the judge may dismiss the claim (with liberty to apply for reconsideration at an oral hearing) or may give directions.

Stage 4: Possession hearings and orders

The Possession hearing

Court hearings for possessions are usually held in the county court that covers the area where the property is located. You should let the court know as soon as possible if you have any special requirements, for example if you need extra assistance to access the building.

It is important that you do not attend court if you are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, and if you have been advised to shield, or if you have been advised to self-isolate or quarantine by your GP, NHS Test and Trace, or are following government guidelines. In these circumstances you should inform the court as soon as possible by means of an application or letter so that suitable arrangements can be made. For example, the judge may decide to adjourn your case or make arrangements for your case to be heard remotely. No fee will be payable.

You should bring copies of all the paperwork relevant to your claim to the possession hearing. This includes 2 copies of the notice which you provided with your claim setting out the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on your defendant.

At the court hearing the judge might:

  • adjourn the hearing – it will be moved to a later date
  • dismiss your claim – your claim will have been unsuccessful for reasons which the judge should make clear
  • make a possession order – which may either be ‘outright’ or ‘suspended’ depending on the grounds on which the order is made and the circumstances of the case as assessed by the judge.

The judge may adjourn the case if:

  • the judge decides that there is insufficient time to hear the case on the day
  • the judge decides that more information is needed
  • the tenant is unable to attend court for valid reasons, for example a hospital admission

The judge may dismiss the case if:

  • you have not followed the correct procedure
  • you or your representative do not attend the hearing
  • the judge does not believe that the conditions of the ground have been proved
  • your tenants have paid any rent that was owed

If the judge dismisses the case, you will not be able to apply for enforcement.If the tenant has incurred legal costs in defending the claim, the judge may order you to pay those costs. Depending on the reason for dismissal, you may be able to continue to seek possession, but you would have to start the court process again, and you may need to serve a new notice before doing so. It may be in your interests to seek legal advice before taking any further steps.

Possession Orders

The judge can make different kinds of possession order.

Outright possession order

This form of order requires your tenant to leave your property by a date specified in the order – the deadline for leaving is midnight on the specified date.

The date will usually be 14 to 28 days after the court hearing, although it could be shorter or longer. Where the order is made on a mandatory ground or under section 21, and if it is a case where the tenant would suffer extreme hardship, the judge can allow the tenant up to a maximum of 6 weeks.

Suspended and postponed orders for possession

A suspended order specifies a date for possession, but it also sets out conditions which your tenant is required to abide by. For example, a condition might be that your tenant pay the rent plus a stated amount towards the arrears each month. So long as your tenant keeps to the conditions, you will not be able to enforce the possession order. If your tenant breaches the conditions, you can request the court to issue a ‘warrant for possession’ and the court bailiff will then arrange to carry out an eviction.

Postponed possession orders also permit a tenant to stay in the property so long as they abide by certain conditions; however, they do not include a specific date for when the tenant must leave the property. However, if your tenant breaches the terms of a postponed possession order, you can make an application to the court to get a fixed eviction date. The court decides whether there will be another hearing.

Possession orders with a money judgment

A judge can add a money judgment to any of the possession orders. This means your tenant owes a specific amount of money, usually made up of:

  • the rent arrears
  • court fees
  • your legal costs.

Appealing against the decision

You may be able to appeal to a higher court if you have proper legal grounds – for example, if you can show that the decision was wrong because of a serious mistake or because the procedure was not followed properly. If you think this is the case at the end of the hearing, you should ask the judge for the reasons for the decision made and for permission to appeal. If the judge gives you permission, or if you continue to be concerned, you should seek legal advice urgently, as there is generally only a 21 day window for bringing an appeal. A solicitor who specialises in housing should be able to advise you whether you have grounds for an appeal and whether it is worth pursuing.

Stage 5: Warrants and bailiffs

You can ask the court for a ‘warrant for possession’ if your tenants do not leave your property by the date given in an order for possession. It costs £121.

Due to the current context of the coronavirus pandemic, it may take longer than usual for eviction to be enforced by a county court bailiff.

The bailiff will follow the latest Public Health England and government guidance when carrying out an eviction. They will conduct the eviction wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and maintain social distancing. To manage the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, local lockdown restrictions may be introduced in the postcode in which your property is located. If the local lockdown places restrictions on entering premises, a bailiff will not be able to enter your property to carry out the eviction. You will be notified of any changes in the progression of your case by the court. In addition, the government has issued guidance to bailiffs that they should not carry out evictions in the weeks leading up to and over Christmas other than in the most serious circumstances.

If you originally issued your possession claim using the possession claim online serviceyou can request the warrant directly through that service. Otherwise you should send the request and the fee to the court where the hearing was held.

Your responsibilities after a warrant has been issued

After the court issues a warrant for possession your tenant will be sent an eviction notice stating a date and time at which the county court bailiff will attend to repossess the property. If the tenant does not leave before the appointment, the bailiff will carry out an eviction.

The court will send you confirmation that a warrant has been issued and, once these have been allocated, it will send you notice of the date and time of the bailiff’s appointment to repossess the property on Form EX96.

You need to let the bailiff know about any risks they may encounter when carrying out the eviction. The eviction will be delayed if you do not complete a risk assessment accurately and return it to the court before the bailiff appointment date.

You should confirm the appointment and provide a risk assessment by completing and returning the tear off slip on the EX96 form, to arrive at the court at least 3 working days before the appointment date, otherwise the appointment may be cancelled.

You should attend the bailiff’s appointment, particularly as the bailiff may need instructions from you if the tenant does not cooperate. Wait for the bailiff outside the property and take a spare set of keys with you, if you have them. You may want to arrange for a locksmith to attend as well – to help the bailiff gain entry, if necessary, and to change the locks after the eviction.

Transferring the warrant to the High Court

You may wish to consider applying a High Court enforcement officer can evict your tenant. This will cost more, but you may get an eviction date sooner.

You can get a ‘writ of possession’ if you transfer the warrant from the county court to the High Court.

Before you transfer, you’ll need to apply for permission from the county court if you do not already have it. It costs £66 plus a further £66 to seal a writ of possession as well as High Court enforcement officer’s fees.

Delaying eviction

In both the county court and the High Court, a notice of eviction will be sent to your tenant at least 14 days before the eviction is due to take place.

Your tenant can apply to the court for a ‘suspension’ of the warrant. The application will be listed for a hearing where a judge will decide whether it is lawful and reasonable to grant a suspension. The court will give you notice of this hearing and you should attend to protect your interests.

6. Further advice and information

National representative bodies

Help and advice

‘How to’ guides (England only)

  • The government’s How to let guide provides information for landlords and property agents about their rights and responsibilities when letting out property.
  • The government’s How to rent a safe home guide helps current and prospective tenants ensure that a rented property is safe to live in.
  • The government’s How to rent guide helps tenants and landlords in the private rented sector understand their rights and responsibilities.
  • The government’s How to lease guide helps current and prospective leaseholders understand their rights and responsibilities.

Annex A: Minimum notice period lengths under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988

Legislation: Section 8, Housing Act 1988 / For grounds see Schedule 2 to the Act / Applicable to assured and assured shorthold tenancies

Users: Private sector and private registered providers of social housing

GroundPre-coronavirus Act 2020 notice period: until 26 March 2020Modified notice period: 26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020Modified notice period: 29 August 2020 – 31 March 2021
Mandatory (judge must award possession if ground met)   
1: Landlord wants to move in2 months3 months6 months
2: Mortgage repossession2 months3 months6 months
3: Out of season holiday let2 weeks3 months6 months
4: Let to student by an educational institution2 weeks3 months6 months
5: Property required for use by minister of religion2 months3 months6 months
6: Demolition / redevelopment2 weeks3 months6 months
7: Death of tenant2 months3 months3 months
7a: Serious anti-social behaviour4 weeks (periodic tenancy) 

1 month (fixed term tenancy)
3 months4 weeks (periodic tenancy) 

1 month (fixed term tenancy)
7b: No right to rent in the UK2 weeks3 months3 months
8: Serious rent arrears at time of service of notice and possession proceedings2 weeks3 months(a) 4 weeks where arrears are at least 6 months 

(b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months
GroundPre-coronavirus Act 2020 notice period: until 26 March 2020Modified notice period: 26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020Modified notice period: 29 August 2020 – 31 March 2021
Discretionary (judge can decide whether to award possession, if ground met)   
9: Alternative accommodation available2 months3 months6 months
10: Some rent arrears at the time of service of notice and possession proceedings2 weeks3 months(a) 4 weeks where arrears are at least 6 months 

(b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months
11: Persistent late payment of rent2 weeks3 months(a) 4 weeks where arrears are at least 6 months 

(b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months
12: Breach of tenancy agreement2 weeks3 months6 months
13: Tenant deteriorated property2 weeks3 months6 months
14: Nuisance/annoyance, illegal/immoral use of propertyNone- proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice3 monthsNone – proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice
14A: Domestic abuse (social tenancies only – where victim has permanently left the property)2 weeks3 months2 weeks
14ZA: Rioting2 weeks3 months2 weeks
15: Tenant has deteriorated furniture2 weeks3 months6 months
16: Employment2 months3 months6 months
17: False statement2 weeks3 months2 weeks


Arrangements for Possession Proceedings

Posted on September 18th, 2020 -

A new document has been issued by The Master of the Rolls (as Head of Civil Justice) Working Group on Possession Proceedings.

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Possession-Proceedings-Overall-Arrangements-Version-1.0-17.09.20.pdf

Please use the link above to access the document, it has been regularly updated, SWLA want members to have access to the most up to date version.

Main points within the document;

Re-starting existing cases

  • No claim for possession should be re-started without careful efforts to reach compromise.
  • Claims brought before 3 August 2020 will not be listed, relisted or referred to a Judge until a party files and serves a “Reactivation Notice” confirming that they wish the case to proceed. There is no rush – this may be done at any time from 21 September 2020 until at least 29 January 2021. A template Reactivation Notice will be available from the Court Service. If a Reactivation Notice has been provided to the Court by a party before 21 September 2020 the Courts can be expected to put it to one side and not deal with it before 21 September 2020; then, on or after 21 September 2020 (as resources allow) the Court will process the filing of it unless requested not to do so by the party who provided it.
  • In existing claims where case management directions were made before 21 September 2020, a party filing and serving a Reactivation Notice must propose new dates for directions and proposed hearing date, or state that no new directions are required and that an existing hearing date can be met.

Starting new cases

  • No new claim for possession should be started without careful efforts to reach compromise. Regulations both in England and in Wales provide (extended) notice periods before most new claims may be commenced.
  • Where a Pre-Action Protocol applies it should be complied with, and compliance will be expected to be shown.


NRLA Release Pre-Action Plan Document: Managing Rent Arrears and Avoiding Possession Claims

Posted on September 18th, 2020 -

Please see the following link for the full document;

https://www.nrla.org.uk/resources/ending-your-tenancy/pre-action-plan-avoiding-possession-claims#golden-rules-for-dealing-with-rent-disputes

If agreement cannot be reached

If an agreement on a way forward cannot be reached, resulting in a new claim for possession being considered or an existing claim in progress being reactivated, it is essential that landlords and tenants continue to try to discuss the level of arrears, the tenant’s financial situation and repayment of arrears. 

Steps to take before notice is issued (including under Section 21 and Section 8, ground 8)

  1. The landlord should write to the tenants outlining the reasons possession is being sought.  If possession is for arrears, then this arrears pre-action plan should be followed. A failure to do so could result in your case being adjourned, which could delay it.
  2. Landlords must declare if they know of any matters that should be taken into consideration, including if tenants, their dependants, or other occupiers have been affected by coronavirus and, if so, how this has impacted on their ability to pay rent.
  3. Both parties should consider whether it is possible to resolve issues between them through discussion and negotiation, rather than formal legal proceedings (alternative dispute resolution).
  4. The landlord should consider any representations received, and if proceeding with a claim, include any information that has been provided relating to the impact of coronavirus on the tenant’s ability to pay rent.
  5. Landlords must keep copies of all documentation and a record of all correspondence or contact with the tenant, throughout the pre-action process, and provide the information to the court should proceedings be necessary.

If payment of rent is resumed by the tenant, or the tenant’s circumstances have changed and a reasonable plan to repay arrears is agreed, then the landlord should postpone issuing new court proceedings, or reactivating an existing claim, whilst the tenant meets the terms of such an agreement. 

Should the tenant break the terms of the agreement, the landlord should inform the tenant if they intend to start or resume proceedings. It is important that both landlord and tenant, fully engage in the court process thereafter.



Gas Safety Week

Posted on September 18th, 2020 -

Landlords legal responsibilities – Annual Gas Safety Checks

We are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week 2020, taking place 14 – 20 September.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is coordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.  

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a highly poisonous gas that can kill quickly with no warning, as you cannot see it, taste it or smell it.  

Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants. Landlords must make sure maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. 

If you’re a landlord, you are legally obliged to make sure:

  • Gas pipework, appliances and flues provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition.
  • All gas appliances and flues provided for tenants’ use have an annual safety check. Your tenants can report you to the HSE if you don’t provide one, so it’s important to remember! You can set a free email and/or text reminder so you don’t forget, visit StayGasSafe.co.uk.
  • A Gas Safety Record is provided to the tenant within 28 days of completing the check or to any new tenant before they move in.
  • You keep a copy of the Gas Safety Record until two further checks have taken place.
  • Maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • All gas equipment (including any appliance left by a previous tenant) is safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.

Before any gas work is carried out always check the engineer is qualified to carry out the work that needs doing e.g. natural gas, domestic boiler. You can find this information on the Gas Safe Register website or by checking the back of the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card. Encourage your tenants to also check the card when they arrive at the property.

For more information and to find or check an engineer visit GasSafeRegister.co.uk.


Possession Reactivation Form and Guidance Published by Gov.uk

Posted on September 16th, 2020 -

Most property possession claims brought (received by the court, whether or not issued on that date) before 3 August 2020 must be reactivated. You must complete one of these forms if you want to reactivate a claim.

The reactivation notice must be sent to the court that is dealing with your case and to the other party.

Please do not use these documents before 20 September 2020. There is no need to rush to reactivate – you have until 4pm on 24 January 2021.

For the full document and guidance, please see the gov.uk website;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reactivation-notice-for-property-possession


SWLA Chairman Attends Inaugural NRLA Independent Advisory Board Meeting

Posted on September 16th, 2020 -

10th September 2020, Steve Lees attended the online meeting hosted by the NRLA, the first meeting was to welcome those invited to the board and discuss pertinent PRS issues.

A selection of independent landlord associations were amongst the NRLA attendees on the panel.

Aims of the group are to represent a broad a cross-section of stakeholders from the private-rented sector to share insights and discuss matters of relevance to the provision of the privately rented sector.

Points discussed included; COVID challenges, Renters Reform Bill, Court Reform, MEES, Renting Homes (Wales), Tenant Loan Schemes and Section 8/21 Reform.

SWLA represent landlord members at a national level, we are consistently striving for a fair deal for landlords in the PRS.


Coronavirus – Further Government Announcement on Evictions

Posted on September 11th, 2020 -

Renters affected by coronavirus will continue to be supported over autumn and winter through comprehensive measures.

  • Emergency legislation has increased notice periods to 6 months until at least the end of March 2021
  • Evictions will not be enforced in local lockdown areas and there will be a truce on enforcement over Christmas
  • £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments available for local authorities to support vulnerable renters this year

Renters affected by coronavirus will continue to be supported over autumn and winter through comprehensive measures confirmed today (10 September 2020) by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

The government has changed the law to increase notice periods to 6 months meaning renters now served notice can stay in their homes over winter, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.

The only exceptions to this are the most egregious cases, including where tenants have demonstrated anti-social behaviour or committed fraud, and the landlord rightly would like to re-let their property to another tenant.

The Housing Secretary has also today confirmed that with coronavirus still posing a risk, if an area is in a local lockdown that includes a restriction on gathering in homes, evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs.

This support builds on the unprecedented package the government has put in place to help communities through the pandemic, including support for businesses to pay staff salaries and strengthening the welfare safety-net with a nearly £9.3 billion boost to the welfare system. This includes an extra £1 billion to increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they cover the lowest 30% of market rents, meaning we now spend £25 billion supporting households to meet the cost of rent in the private and social rented sectors.

For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments made available this year, an increase of £40 million from last year and which is for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.

We will keep these measures under constant review and our decisions will continue to be guided by the latest public health advice and support with housing costs may also be available for those on low incomes or who are out of work eligible for Universal Credit.

No landlord, including those who only rent out a single property, has had access to the courts since March, including to regain possession in cases where the tenant has broken the law. So it is right that landlords are able to access justice, alongside measure to protect the vulnerable. The government would like to thank landlords for their forbearance during this difficult time.

From 21 September courts will start to hear possession hearings again. When cases are heard again these will be subject to new court processes and procedures which the Judiciary have developed. These include:

  • The prioritisation of cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as extreme rent arrears where landlords would otherwise face unmanageable debts.
  • No cases from before 3 August 2020 will immediately proceed to hearing, but will have to be ‘re-activated’ by the landlord and then subject to a new review hearing, at least four weeks before the substantive hearing.
  • Landlords will also need to provide the courts and Judges with information on how tenants have been affected by the pandemic. Where this information is not provided, judges will be able to adjourn proceedings until the information is provided.

There will also be a ‘winter truce’ on the enforcement of evictions, with no evictions permitted in England and Wales in the run up to and over Christmas except in the most serious circumstances, such as cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse. This will ensure vulnerable tenants are not forced from their homes at a time when public and local authorities may be dealing with the usual level of increased demand for services during this time. To achieve this, guidance will be issued to bailiffs that they should not enforce possession orders in the weeks of Christmas.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

We have protected renters during the pandemic by banning evictions for 6 months – the longest eviction ban in the UK. To further support renters we have increased notice periods to 6 months, an unprecedented measure to help keep people in their homes over the winter months.

It’s right that we strike a balance between protecting vulnerable renters and ensuring landlords whose tenants have behaved in illegal or anti-social ways have access to justice. Our legislation means such cases will be subject to shorter notice periods and then prioritised through the judiciary’s new court processes.

The government has taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries.

The vast majority of landlords have shown understanding and leadership, taking action to support tenants despite facing hardship themselves. According to independent research, 87% of tenants have continued to pay full rent since the start of the pandemic, with a further 8% agreeing reduced fees with their landlords.

The government is committed to striking the right balance in the relationship between landlords and tenants and new guidance will be published before the stay on possession proceedings ends to help both understand their rights under the court system and the financial support available.

Further information

Restarting possession proceedings is an important step towards transitioning out of emergency measures and allowing the market to operate while ensuring people have appropriate access to justice.

The stay on possession proceedings was introduced at the end of March in response to the pandemic in order to protect public health. The stay was extended in June and was due to expire on 23 August 2020. On 21 August, this stay on proceedings was extended for a further month, bringing the suspension to a total of six months. No action to evict a tenant will proceed in the courts before 21 September 2020.

Where tenants do experience financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, the government is clear that landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant’s individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort.

We are very conscious of the pressure on landlords and do not want to exacerbate this. It is important to stress that tenants who are able to do so must continue to pay their rent.

We also understand that there are some cases where it is right that landlords should be able to start progressing cases quicker, because of the pressure they place on landlords, other tenants and local communities.

Therefore, notice periods for the most serious circumstances have been shortened. From 29 August, notice periods must be at least 4 weeks where over six months of rent is due (if less than 6 months is owed, then 6 months’ notice must be given).

Read further here; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-comprehensive-support-for-renters-this-winter?utm_campaign=11815223_Further%20Government%20Announcement%20on%20evictions&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dotmailer&dm_i=Z6K,718ON,962SLC,SDFCW,1


Landlords – Seek support if affected by eviction ban extension

Posted on September 10th, 2020 -

Landlords and tenants affected by coronavirus and the eviction ban should contact their Local Authority as soon as possible to discuss the financial help and other support that may be available. The Local Authority’s ability to help will depend on the financial circumstances of individuals affected.


Get Ready to Apply for the Green Homes Grant Scheme

Posted on September 7th, 2020 -

You can apply for the voucher from the end of September. In the meantime, you can find out what improvements can be made to your home and obtain quotes from certified tradespeople.

The government will provide a voucher worth up to £5,000 or £10,000 to help cover the cost of making energy efficient improvements to your home.

Improvements could include insulating your home to reduce your energy use or installing low-carbon heating to lower the amount of carbon dioxide your home produces.

You must redeem the voucher and ensure improvements are completed by 31 March 2021.

The government will provide a voucher that covers two-thirds of the cost of qualifying energy efficiency or low carbon heating improvements to your home. The maximum value of the voucher is £5,000.

If you are on a low income and receive certain benefits, you can receive a voucher covering all of the cost of the improvements. The maximum value of the voucher is £10,000.

The installer will request and receive payment from the government for the costs covered by the voucher.

Eligibility

To apply for the voucher, you must either:

  • own your home (including park home owners, long-leaseholders and shared ownership)
  • be a private or social landlord

Your property must be in England to be eligible for the scheme.

Landlords cannot apply for the low-income portion of the scheme.

New-build properties that have not previously been occupied are not eligible for the scheme.

What the voucher can be used for

The available measures are split into ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ measures.

Primary measures

The voucher must be used to install at least 1 primary measure. This can be an insulation measure and/or a low carbon heating measure.

Insulation measures

The following insulation measures are covered by the voucher:

  • solid wall
  • under floor
  • cavity wall
  • loft
  • flat roof
  • room in roof
  • insulating a park home

Low carbon heat measures

The following low carbon heating measures are covered by the voucher:

  • air or ground source heat pump
  • solar thermal (liquid filled flat plate or evacuated tube collectors)
  • biomass boilers

Further information on these measures will be announced soon.

You cannot use the voucher to help pay for works that were carried out prior to the voucher being issued.

You cannot use the voucher to replace insulation or low carbon heating measures that are already installed in your home. However, you can use the voucher to ‘top up’ existing measures (for example, installing additional loft insulation up to the recommended level).

Secondary measures

If you install at least 1 primary measure, your voucher can be used to help cover the cost of any of the following secondary measures:

  • draught proofing
  • double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazed windows)
  • secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing)
  • external energy efficient doors (replacing single glazed or solid doors installed before 2002)
  • heating controls
  • hot water tank thermostats and insulation

The amount you get towards the cost of secondary measures cannot exceed the amount you get for primary measures.

ExampleA homeowner wants to install cavity wall insulation and receives a voucher worth £400 towards the work. They can receive a maximum of £400 more for secondary measures, such as replacing single glazed windows with double glazed windows.

Items not covered by the voucher

There are certain items that are not covered by the voucher, including:

  • building a new extension or conversion to your home
  • insulating a conservatory with no fixed heating
  • installing a new fossil fuel boiler (such as gas, oil or LPG boilers)

How to apply

  1. Use the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website to check what energy efficiency or low carbon heat improvements can be made to your home.
  2. Use the SEA website to find accredited tradespeople or businesses in your area that are able to undertake the work and obtain quotes from them. You should get at least 3 quotes to make sure you are getting the best value for money.
  3. Apply for the voucher from the end of September 2020.

You should only enter into a commitment to carry out work once you have had confirmation that your voucher application has been accepted.

You must make sure the work is scheduled to be completed, and the voucher redeemed subject to its terms and conditions, by 31 March 2021.#

For further information, see the gov.uk website; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-green-homes-grant-scheme


Coronavirus – Job Retention Scheme

Posted on September 4th, 2020 -

  • From 1 September the government will pay 70% and employers will pay 10% of employees’ wages for the time they are being furloughed. Employers will also continue to pay their National Insurance and pension contributions.
  • From 1 October the government will pay 60% and employers will pay 20% of employees’ wages for the time they are being furloughed. Employers will also continue to pay their National Insurance and pension contributions.
  • You will continue to pay employees wages at the contracted rate for the hours they work for you.
  • The scheme ends on 31 October 2020.

Find out more here; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-step-by-step-guide-for-employers


Landlords welcome clarity on possession cases- but the courts must open

Posted on August 31st, 2020 -

NRLA Article

Ministers have made important concessions about how repossession cases in the rental market will be handled from 20th September.

It follows extensive lobbying by the National Residential Landlords Association after the Government U-turned on its plan for such cases to be heard again from 23rd August.

Regulations published Friday 28th August which came into force on Saturday 29th August mean landlords only need to give tenants who have committed anti-social behaviour four weeks’ notice of their intention to repossess a property. Those who have committed acts of domestic violence will only need to be given two weeks’ notice.

In cases of tenant rent arrears, landlords will now only be required to give four weeks’ notice where a tenant has built six months of arrears. This will ensure action can start to be taken now against tenants whose arrears had been built up before the COVID lockdown. Last week the Government had said the courts would only prioritise cases where tenants were in a year or more’s worth of arrears.

Whilst the NRLA is welcoming today’s announcements, it is warning that it will be mean nothing without a cast iron guarantee that the courts will begin to hear cases on 20th September. It is further disappointed that the six-month notice period will remain in cases where landlords need to regain possession of a property in order to live in it. This will continue to penalise those, such as service men and women in the military, renting their homes out whilst working away.

The announcement fails also to provide the financial package of hardship loans needed to cover COVID-related rent arrears which are vital to sustaining tenancies.

On Friday 28th August, Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association said:

“Today’s announcement provides welcome clarity about how possession cases will be handled. However, it will mean nothing without a complete guarantee that the courts will hear cases from 20th September.

“It is disappointing that the Government has so far failed to heed the warnings of the NRLA and others that a financial package is needed to pay-off rent arrears built due to COVID. In the end this is the best way to sustain tenancies. We will continue to campaign hard for this important measure.”

Article from NRLA https://www.nrla.org.uk/news/landlords-welcome-clarity-on-possession-cases-but-the-courts-must-open


New Possession Notice Forms and Clarity on 6 Month Notice Period

Posted on August 29th, 2020 -

From today (29th August 2020), regulations come in requiring landlords and agents to give 6 months notice (in most cases) before regaining possession in England. New forms have been published on the gov.uk website (Form 3, form 6a and the notes to form 6a have been changed in line with new requirements on notice periods); https://www.gov.uk/guidance/assured-tenancy-forms

The new forms must be used from today (29th August 2020). The new regulations will not be applied retrospectively for any possession notices served on or before 28th August 2020. The new regulations will be in force until 31 March 2021.

IMPORTANT – The government have made concessions for landlords who need to serve notice to tenants who have committed anti social behaviour or have over 6 month rent arrears. These are:

  • anti-social behaviour (now 4 weeks’ notice)
  • over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (now 4 weeks’ notice)

Please read the gov.uk announcement below in full; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-has-changed-the-law-so-most-renters-have-a-6-month-notice-period

The government is continuing to help renters with an unprecedented package of support measures.

Legislation has now been introduced, so landlords must now give tenants 6 months’ notice before they can evict until March 2021, except in the most serious of cases, such as incidents of anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators.

The stay on possession proceedings has been extended until 20 September, meaning that in total no tenant can have been legally evicted for 6 months at the height of the pandemic.

The package of support for renters includes the extension of notice periods and the extension to the stay on possession proceedings. For the most egregious cases, notice periods have returned to their pre-coronavirus levels, and landlords will be able to progress serious rent arrears cases more quickly.

These changes mean that from 29 August, landlords must provide at least 6 months’ notice period prior to seeking possession through the courts in most cases, including  section 21 evictions and rent arrears under 6 months.

Notices served on and before 28 August are not affected by these changes, and must be at least 3 months.

The government is also helping landlords affected by the worst cases to seek possession; these are:

  • anti-social behaviour (now 4 weeks’ notice)
  • domestic abuse (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
  • false statement (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
  • over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (now 4 weeks’ notice)
  • breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (now 3 months’ notice)

In addition, new court rules have been agreed, which will come into force on 20 September meaning landlords will need to set out in their claim any relevant information about a tenant’s circumstances, including information on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Where this information is not provided, judges will have the ability to adjourn proceedings.

Secretary of State for Housing, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

We have developed a package of support for renters to ensure they continue to be protected over winter. I have changed the law so that renters are protected by a 6 month notice period until March 2021.

No tenant will have been legally evicted for 6 months at the height of the pandemic as the stay on possession proceedings has been extended until 20 September. For the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, notice periods have returned to their normal level, and landlords will be able to progress serious rent arrears cases more quickly.

These changes will support landlords to progress the priority cases while keeping the public safe over winter.  We will keep these measures under review and decisions will continue to be guided by the latest public health advice.

The new legislation applies to both the private and social rented sectors in England, and to all new notices in relation to assured, assured shorthold, secure, flexible, introductory and demoted tenancies and those under the Rent Act 1977, but not to any notices issued before the legislation comes into force.

Courts will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, including anti-social behaviour, fraud, and domestic abuse, ensuring landlords are able to progress the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes.

Further information

If a landlord made a claim to the court before 3 August, they must notify the Court and their tenant that they still intend to seek repossession before the case will proceed, including in section 21 cases.

More detailed guidance on using the courts and the new arrangements will be made available in advance of possession proceedings starting again.

We are conscious of the pressure on landlords during this difficult time and do not want to exacerbate this.  Of course, it is important that tenants who are able to do so must continue to pay their rent.

The government has put in place an unprecedented support package to support tenants to pay their living costs, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, £9.3 billion of additional support through the welfare system, and increasing the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile.

We are committed to bringing forward the Renters Reform Bill to abolish section 21 and deliver a fairer and more effective rented sector in due course. However, such legislation must balance greater security of tenure with an assurance that landlords are able to recover their properties where they have valid reasons to do so.

We have been working closely with the judiciary through a Master of the Rolls led Working Group to finalise the arrangements on the prioritisation of cases, for when the stay on possession proceedings lifts from 20 September.

29 August, landlords must provide at least 6 months’ notice period prior to seeking possession through the courts in most cases, including  section 21 evictions and rent arrears under 6 months. We have also extended the validity of a section 21 notice from 6 to 10 months to accommodate this change.

SWLA will be updating members stationery and forms in due course. If you are serving notice before then, please download the possession notice form straight from the gov.uk website.

The regulations can be read here; https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/914/contents/made


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