Landlords: An update on giving notice of seeking possession
This article examines the new notice periods and procedural issues for landlords who are seeking to gain possession of a residential property during the coronavirus pandemic, after the lifting of the stay that expired on 20 September 2020
Notice of seeking possession
The notice periods contained in the two types of statutory possession notices have been increased, which are detailed below:
Section 21 notice – no fault notice
The current minimum notice period required is 6 months. This applies to notices served from and including 29 August 2020 to 31 March 2021. Notices served within this period are valid for 10 months, which means possession proceedings must be brought within 10 months of the date of the notice. There is a new prescribed form section 21 notice for use from 29 August 2020.
Previously, for section 21 notices served from 26 March 2020 to 28 August 2020, the notice periods were three months.
Section 8 notice – fault based notice
There are various notice periods for different fault based grounds, which have been set out below:
- Immediately after service of the notice under ground 14 (nuisance, annoyance, immoral or illegal)
- 2 weeks’ notice under grounds 14A (domestic violence between tenants of a registered social or charitable housing landlord) 14ZA (conviction riots) and 17 (tenancy granted as a result of false statements)
- 4 weeks’ notice where there are at least 6 months’ rent unpaid and grounds 8 (rent arrears), 10 (some rent due) or 11 (persistent delays in paying rent) apply
- 4 weeks’ notice under ground 7A (convictions and anti-social behaviour)
- 3 months’ notice under grounds 7B (immigration status) and 7 (tenant death)
Section 8 notices are a pre cursor to issuing proceedings for possession with the court and must also be on a prescribed form.
Claimant landlords are now required to notify the court what effect (if any) the pandemic has had on their tenants as the court will take this into consideration when contemplating an order for possession. Landlords must attempt to ascertain the tenant’s circumstances in light of Covid-19 as the courts will take into consideration tenants who are vulnerable, disabled or shielding.
Possession claims brought before 3 August 2020 will require a Reactivation Notice to be sent to the court. For new possession claims brought after the end of the stay (21 September 2020) the courts will no longer list matters for hearing when the claim forms are issued and the 8 week target for listing a hearing no longer applies. Certain matters will be given a priority, such as cases involving anti-social behaviour and where there a significant rent arrears (12 months or more).
It is likely that the courts will be faced with a backlog of new matters to deal with and it is not yet clear how long it will take for matters to be heard and possession orders to be granted.
If you require advice on seeking possession of your residential property, then please contact Rhoda Honey.