The possessions update – we take a closer look.
A few weeks ago, we talked about the current ban on bailiff led evictions. We explored the impact that the ban has had on the private rental sector and the likelihood of a surge in possession proceedings once the ban is lifted.
With less than three weeks until the ban ends, what will the possession process look like? Last week, the government announced plans to ease the current restrictions and move towards a staged return to pre-COVID notice periods.
So what can Landlords in England expect?
We anticipate that there will be a significant backlog of cases, with swathes of frustrated landlords eager to get their cases before the courts. According to the Resolution Foundation, as many as 750,000 families were behind on their rent in January 2021. These figures suggest that a surge in applications is imminent, unless a financial package can be agreed.
It remains to be seen whether the courts will utilise technology to speed up the process, although in our opinion, this is likely.
Provided there are no further government imposed restrictions (or lockdowns), we can expect to see the following changes:
From 1st June 2021:
- Enforcement possessions by county court bailiffs and high court enforcement officers will get the green light.
- Default notice periods for both Section 8 and Section 21 will reduce from six to four months. It is worth noting that notices served up until 31st May will still need to adhere to the six month notice period.
- Where a landlord has experienced ‘serious rent arrears’ they can initiate the eviction process by issuing a four week notice period. ‘Serious rent arrears’ can be defined as four months of rent arrears, as opposed to the emergency six months currently in force.
From 1st August 2021:
- Where a landlord has experienced ‘non-serious’ rent arrears (four months or less) they can issue a two-month notice period.
From 1st October 2021:
- We can expect to see both Section 8 and Section 21 notice periods revert to pre-COVID timescales.
The government also announced that there would be a fee waiver for those landlords who had yet to gain possession of their properties, due to the implementation of the COVID restrictions. Landlords in England and Wales can extend any possession warrant that expired after 16th March 2020, saving between £100 and £225. Applications for the extension must be made between 1st June and 31st August 2021, using form N244 and available from county courts.
On a practical note, It might be worth waiting until June 1st if you are currently considering serving notice. New prescribed forms for issuing Section 8 and Section 21 notices will be available on the Gov.UK website from 1st June 2021.
If you have any questions about the government road map and whether you are able to serve a notice then we are here to help.
Please drop us a line and we can guide you through the process.