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    Coronavirus Act 2020: Serving Notice on Tenants During Coronavirus

    Real Estate Dispute Resolution Solicitor Natalie Dowding looks at the impact of the Coronavirus Act 2020 on serving notice to tenants.

    The Coronavirus Act 2020 is emergency legislation which came into force on 25 March 2020 and covers a wide range of scenarios affected by the ongoing global pandemic.

    This article focuses on Schedule 29 of that Act which deals with protection from eviction for residential tenancies in England and Wales. The changes and provisions mentioned in this article are operational from 26 March 2020 to 30 September 2020.

    During this period if you are a landlord and want to serve notice on your tenant, you now need to give at least three months’ notice. This new notice period applies to Rent Act 1977 protected tenancies, statutory tenancies, secure tenancies, flexible tenancies, assured tenancies, assured shorthold tenancies, introductory and demoted tenancies. None of the other requirements have changed, therefore you need to remember to comply with any provisions of the tenancy agreement on how to serve the notice, and any other contractual or statutory obligations that may affect your ability to serve a notice.

    For example, a hot topic at the moment is the question of compliance with the Gas Safety Regulations 1998. The current position is that if you did not serve your tenant with a valid gas safety certificate before they took up occupation of the property, then you are prevented from serving your tenant with a section 21 notice. This may seem harsh on landlords, and this particular issue is under Appeal, and the situation may change, however you need to be aware of your obligations and also be sure that you have complied with those obligations more than ever because if you do need to serve notice, you want to be sure that the notice you are serving is valid. If not, you may end up having to serve a fresh notice and by consequence, will need to wait for a further 3 months before you can begin a possession claim.

    I have recently had several clients who were not sure whether there is any point in serving notice now because of the new 3-month notice period and the restrictions on movement. Whilst it may be the case that practically speaking tenants cannot move freely because of Government advice, if you serve notice now it will mean that in 3 months’ time if your tenant still refuses to leave, you will be ready to issue a possession claim almost immediately without having to wait a further period. Additionally, just because you serve notice now, does not mean that you need to act upon it straight away. For example, if you are serving a section 8 notice seeking possession, that notice will be valid for 12 months. S21 notices are usually valid for 6 months from the date of service.

    Please note that this emergency legislation is currently only operational up to 30 September 2020. In the absence of any amendment or further legislation, after this period, these provisions will no longer apply.

    If you are not sure how to deal with your tenants in the current crisis, what type of tenancy you have, how to serve notice, or what your obligations are as a landlord, please get in touch. At Seddons, our Property Litigation team can provide you with fast, clear and trustworthy advice and we can represent you throughout the eviction process.

    Should you have any questions regarding the above information, or need any property disputes related legal advice, please get in contact with Natalie Dowding, at natalie.dowding@seddons.co.uk or on 0207 725 8040.

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