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News and Opinion from Edward Harte LLP

Corona Virus Act 2020 – Residential Landlords and Tenants

The Corona Virus Act 2020 came into effect from the 26 March 2020 and deals with new possession cases and existing ones.

Firstly, notice periods have been increased to a minimum of three months for notices seeking possession or notices to quit in respect of certain residential tenancies in the private and social sector.  This applies to any notices served from the 26 March until the 30 September 2020.

Where there is a prescribed form of notice, these notices have been updated to reflect the new notice period.  These notices are as follows:

  1. Form A – a Section 8 Notice seeking possession of a property let on Assured Tenancy or Assured Agricultural Occupancy.
  2. Form 6A – a Section 21 Notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

In addition, all proceedings for possession of residential properties brought under CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by warrant or writ of possession have been stayed for a period of 90 days from the 26 March 2020.

Currently the period of protection is from the 26 March to the 30 September 2020, but the Government have powers to extend that period up to a further three months.

Which tenancies are affected?

  1. A regulated tenancy
  2. A secure tenancy
  3. A fully assured or assured shorthold tenancy
  4. A flexible tenancy
  5. A demoted tenancy
  6. An introductory tenancy

Which tenants are not protected?

  1. Common law tenants
  2. Licensees
  3. Other less common tenancies such as agricultural residential tenancies

What are the limitations of the protection?

If you are a tenant you remain liable to your landlord for the rent.  Where you can, tenants should continue to pay rent as normal. 

If you are a landlord you can still serve notices seeking possession, but they cannot take effect for at least three months.

What if the period is extended?

Currently there is no provision for what will happen in respect of the ‘three months’ notices that are served during the relevant period i.e. between 26 March and 30 September 2020 if the relevant period is extended.  It appears that they will remain valid and enforceable (subject to any remaining practical issues around enforcement). 

Practical Issues/considerations for landlords

I would advise that you liaise with your tenant as early as possible and establish whether they will have difficulties in meeting their rental obligations.  You may want to consider temporary rental concessions such as reduced rent.  You should also consider a mortgage ‘holiday’ from your mortgage provider. 

Mortgage Payment Holidays

Lenders have agreed a three-month moratorium on residential and buy –to-let possession action (from the 9 March 2020), meaning that no homes will be repossessed during that period.  Mortgage providers are supporting customers by offering the option of a payment holiday.  You should contact your lender for details.  

If you need any further information or details, please contact Samantha Dawkins of Edward Harte Solicitors by email on: sdawkins@edward-harte.co.uk or by telephone on 01273 662750.