The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on 25th March 2020. It was implemented by a Practice Direction and included provisions intended to protect both landlords and tenants during the current Corona Virus pandemic.
In summary, for assured tenancies any notice served under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (notice of proceedings for possession) or Section 21 of the same Act (notice ending an assured shorthold tenancy) must now give a 3 month notice period. This applies irrespective of the ground relied upon. The legislation also provides that the period of 3 months can be extended should the government deem it necessary.
The above changes would also apply to the following tenancies:-
• Rent Act 1977 protected and statutory tenancies.
• Secure tenancies.
• Flexible tenancies.
• Licences and residential occupational rights covered by protection from the Eviction Act 977 including squatters.
Notwithstanding the above, the rent and monies due under the tenancy continue to accrue and the liability to pay is deferred rather than cancelled.
There is provision that landlords will also have the right to claim a 3 month mortgage payment holiday on buy-to-let mortgages which is meant to balance the loss of rental income expected as a consequence of new tenant protections.
Depending on individual circumstances of each tenancy the Landlord’s has three possible courses of action to consider:
1. Waiting and issuing possession proceedings in due course – the Practice Direction stays all possession proceedings and also the enforcement of existing possession orders for a period of 90 days
from 26 March 2020. The Practice Direction envisages the possibility that, if necessary having regard to the consequences of the Covid 19 epidemic, the initial period of the stay may be extended up to 30
2. Issuing court issue proceedings for a monetary claim but you would run the risk of the Court exercising its discretion /possibility that some judges may choose to adjourn for three months in keeping
with section 81.
3. Serving a statutory demand the Tenant as commencement of bankruptcy proceedings in respect of the debt owing – there is some argument that this could be considered an abuse of process in the light of the Coronavirus Act 2020 .
In all of the above situations it is advisable, to avoid cost exposure to the Landlord , to do a letter before claim to the tenants
This article is prepared with the intention of providing general information on the changes in law. Philip Ross Solicitors accept no responsibility for errors it may contain and the coverage of the topic is not comprehensive. You are advised to speak
directly to the writer or another partner within this firm within any specific enquiries on the topic addressed.
If you need further information or to discuss a specific issue please contact the writer, Daniel Glinert.
Daniel co-founded a successful niche West End London law firm where he was a partner for over twenty years. He now acts for numerous property investors, developers, retail chains and high net worth individuals.