Possession proceedings proceed (presumably…)
Providing there are no further announcements from the Government, from 21 September 2020, the courts will resume hearing possession cases. Landlords will then be able to take legal action to evict tenants from their properties. However, since the suspension of possession hearings on 26 March 2020, there have been several changes to the procedure landlords are required to follow to evict their tenants. Below is an outline of these changes to provide guidance to tenants facing possession proceedings.
Landlords must first give the tenant notice that they are intending to seek possession of the property. The length of the notice period will depend upon the type of tenancy, the ground relied upon to bring the proceedings and the date when the notice was served.
Section 21 notices
Any notice served under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 on or after 29 August 2020 must be for a minimum period of six months. Section 21 notices served between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020 must be for a minimum period of three months. Section 21 notices are sometimes referred to as “no fault” notices and are usually issued to tenants of private landlords or those on starter tenancies with social landlords.
Section 8 notices
Notice served under Section 8 of the Act between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020 must be for a minimum period of three months. Notices served on or after 29 August 2020 must be for a minimum period of six months, unless one of the following exceptions applies –
- The landlord seeks possession of the property due to allegations that the tenant has engaged in antisocial behaviour or committed a criminal offence.
- The tenant has been accused of acts of domestic violence against someone who lives at the property.
- The tenant is in rent arrears of at least six months at the time the notice is served.
- The tenancy was obtained by fraud or the tenant does not have the right to rent under the immigration rules.
If one of the exceptions does apply, then the length of the notice period will then depend upon the type of tenancy and the ground for possession.
Once the notice period has expired the landlord will then need to issue proceedings in the courts to obtain a possession order. Landlords who have already issued proceedings before 3 August 2020 are also required to serve the tenant with a reactivation notice. This notice must confirm that they wish the case to be listed for hearing and set out what knowledge the landlord possesses of the impact the Coronavirus pandemic has had upon the tenant and their dependants.