The Government Announce a Six Week Extension on Evictions Ban
As a result of the continual lockdown in England, the Government have extended the existing evictions ban for at least another six weeks. What this means is that any eviction notices granted, now cannot be enforced by a bailiff until 21st February, at the very earliest (except in some serious circumstances). Extending the evictions ban for another six weeks is a continuation of other methods that the Government have put in place to protect tenants during the lockdown, such as extending the evictions notice period, otherwise known as a Section 21, to six months, instead of two.
So, what does this mean for tenants?
Virtually all tenants are now entitled to a six-month period of notice to leave their property when requested by their landlord. Previously, only two months were given, but due to the national lockdown in England, this was altered as a way of protecting tenants. This new ruling is in place until March 31st, 2021. What this means is that up until this date, landlords are legally obliged to give 6 months’ notice for evictions, by a Section 21.
What exactly is a Section 21?
Essentially, a Section 21 notice is what a landlord can use to serve an eviction notice, without having to give any reasons for doing so. This is a common way that a landlord can end an assured shorthold tenancy. There are two options at this stage, for the tenant to find somewhere else to live, or negotiate with their landlord to stay living in their home.
Are there any exceptions to this ruling?
As mentioned above, the evictions ban implies to ‘virtually all tenants’, meaning that there are of course some exceptions to this. Allowances to these measures are kept for very serious cases, which include anti-social behaviours, domestic abuse, false statement, a breach of immigration rules and having over 6 months accumulated rent arrears.
At current, the notice periods given for these circumstances are as follows:
- anti-social behaviour – 4 weeks’ notice
- domestic abuse - 2 to 4 weeks’ notice
- false statement - 2 to 4 weeks’ notice
- over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears - 4 weeks’ notice
- breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ - 3 months’ notice.
Essentially, any tenant who has been served an eviction notice prior to March 31st, 2021, legally has at least 6 months’ notice to vacate the property. With the new six week extension on the evictions ban, after the six months, these cannot go to court until at least February 21st, 2021.
NB. Please do check the government website for the most up-to-date information on these measures, as these can change quickly due to COVID-19.