Industry News James Wood 09/09/2021

Possession update: what you need to know about possession from October 1 2021

The Government has laid legislation that will return notice periods to their pre-pandemic levels in England from 1 October 2021.

Possession notice periods have been changed multiple times since March 2020 leading to a great deal of confusion about how landlords may seek possession during the pandemic.

The current notice period requirements

Since 1 June 2021, most possession notices have required the landlord to give a minimum of four months’ notice if they serve either a Section 21 or a Section 8 notice.

Thanks to NRLA lobbying there are some shorter notice periods available if the landlord serves a section 8 notice. In particular landlords can access shorter notice periods where –

  • The tenant engages in anti-social behaviour (24 hours or one month depending on the ground)
  • They have built up rent arrears (4 weeks or 2 months depending on the level of arrears)

Notice periods from 1 October 2021

From 1 October 2021, notice periods will return to their pre-pandemic levels. This means that the following notice periods will apply for assured shorthold tenancies –

  • Section 21 or Section 8 using any of grounds 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 or 16 – two months and cannot expire before the end of the fixed term
  • Section 8 using the rent arrears grounds (8, 10 and 11) – two weeks
  • Section 8 using grounds 3, 4, 7b, 12, 13, 14A, 15 or 17 – two weeks
  • Section 8 using ground 7a (anti-social behaviour with a conviction) - One calendar month
  • Section 8 using Ground 14 (the discretionary ground for anti-social behaviour) - Immediately after the notice counts as served (usually 24 hours)

Will the new notice periods be backdated?

No, any notices served before 1 October will still need to comply with the current rules so will typically require four months’ notice.

Given this, landlords who are planning to serve a Section 21 notice should probably wait until 1 October before taking action. This will save landlords over a month with the shorter notice periods.

Could notice periods be extended again?

Potentially yes, as the extended notice periods have been suspended rather than abolished entirely.

While there are no plans currently to reintroduce longer notices, in the event of another lockdown the Government retains the power to bring them back until March 2021.

Will there be new Section and Section 21 forms?

Yes, the new legislation introduces new version of Section 8 and Section 21 notices for landlords to use. Both the Form 6a (Section 21) and the Form 3 (Section 8) are prescribed forms so landlords must ensure they use the correct version before service. This should be available to download from gov.uk on 1 October 2021.

The wording of the new forms has also changed substantially. For example, the section 8 notice no longer contains guidance for tenants and landlords on what notice periods are required for each ground.

However, members of the NRLA will still be able to access completion notes to help guide them through completing both forms. These resources will be published on 1 October 2021.

Will the new notice periods apply in Wales too?

Not as yet. Wales has separate legislation covering notice period lengths and they currently require six months in almost all cases. No announcement has been made on any reductions or plans to taper notice periods as yet.

Will this improve court wait times?

While most landlords have not sought possession during the pandemic, delays have been severe even with a reduced caseload.

The shorter notice periods are unlikely to affect this and long delays for court hearings and bailiffs are still expected and landlords are still encouraged to try and work with their tenants to find an amicable solution that avoids seeking possession.

James Wood

James Wood Policy Manager

James Wood, LLB, is the NRLA’s Policy Manager. James has provided legally sound advice to thousands of landlords for over 6 years, along with producing the organisation’s guides and documents and training the organisation’s highly rated advice service.

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