• The Coronavirus Act 2020 was introduced at the outset of the pandemic to help the country cope with the demands caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

    Whilst this legislation created a protected commercial hiatus to dealing with legal matters, various restrictions were imposed, particularly for commercial landlords.

    At Brachers, we represent a number of commercial landlords, particularly landlords with large property portfolios for both mixed used, residential, and commercial premises.

    This legislation has particularly affected our landlord clients who rent properties to residential tenants. They have been unable to gain possession of their properties when tenants have breached their tenancy, which has had significant financial implications for many.

    These restrictions have also affected some of our residential clients who had invested in properties and had relied on rental income from these investments. In instances where their tenants owed rent, landlords have been severely restricted in evicting these tenants, leaving them struggling financially.

    In a welcome move for many landlords, the government recently introduced further changes to what a landlord can now do to trigger the eviction process.

    As part of a phased approach, changes to eviction notice periods in England, including lifting the ban on bailiffs enforced evictions, came into effect on 1 June 2021.

    Notice periods for serving section 21 and section 8

    From 1 June 2021, in instances where the tenant is in arrears of rent of four months or more, the notice period when serving a notice has reduced from six months to four weeks.

    Where a tenant is in arrears of rent of less than four months, the notice period has reduced from six to four months. This will further reduce to two months from 1 August 2021.

    More serious breaches of tenancy agreements will continue to have more reduced notice period requirements.

    Grounds for possession and related notice periods

    • Anti-social behaviour: Immediate or up to four weeks
    • Domestic abuse: Two to four weeks
    • False statements made or knowingly lied to obtain the property: Two to four weeks
    • Breach of immigration rule ‘Right to Rent’: Two weeks
    • Death of a tenant: Two months

    For assured shorthold tenancies only, section 21 notices served on or after 1 June 2021 until 31 September 2021, the minimum period of notice that must be given has reduced from six to four  months.

    New prescribed forms of notice are being introduced to reflect these amendments.

    Evictions

    The bailiff-enforced evictions ban ended in England on 31 May 2021. This means that bailiff and/or high court enforcement officers can now attend residential dwellings to enforce a possession order.

    Enforcement will still be restricted if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self -isolating. Nevertheless, the easing of the restrictions should now provide some tangible support for landlords, taking them one step closer to regaining possession of their properties.

    There are however around 350,000 tenants who are in arrears of rent and the courts are facing an unprecedented backlog of cases, so the situation ahead will be a challenging for everyone.

    Further support for commercial landlords

    For further support on the issues covered in this article, please contact our Property Litigation team today.

    Can we help?

    Take a look at our Commercial Dispute Resolution page for useful information, resources, guidance, details of our team and how we may be able to help you

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