Notice periods for private tenants will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October, subject to the public health advice and progress with the roadmap, the government has announced.
As part of a phased approach, notice periods – previously extended to six months as an emergency measure during the pandemic – will be set at four months from 1 June. Legislation relating to the current temporary notice period in England was introduced on Saturday 29 August.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “From the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented action to protect renters and help keep them in their homes.
“As Covid restrictions are eased in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods."
Safeagent is among a host of organisations to welcome the certainty that the government’s announcement provides for both tenants and landlords with a reasonable timeframe for each party to plan for the future.
Isobel Thomson, Safeagent chief executive, said: “Landlords who have maintained tenancies throughout the pandemic at often personal cost and hardship now have a clear route to repossessing their properties should they need to do so. Tenants have the certainty of knowing they will continue to be protected with a longer notice period for the months ahead.
“What has been clear from our firms throughout the past year is the way agents have successfully facilitated setting up financial arrangements between tenants and landlords where tenants have been unable to meet their rent in full. Our survey results have shown no indication of any increased intention among landlords to evict tenants other than in cases where there are serious grounds."
Mark Hayward, chief policy advisor at Propertymark, commented: “Whilst the reduced notice periods are still longer than pre-Covid, it is pleasing to see the UK government continuing to provide financial support to tenants, combatting rent arrears as well as providing clarity for the rental sector as we navigate the easing of restrictions.”
From 1 June, notice periods that are currently six months will reduce to at least four months. Notice periods for the most serious cases that present the most strain on landlords will remain lower:
* anti-social behaviour (immediate to 4 weeks’ notice)
* domestic abuse in the social sector (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
* false statement (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
* over 4 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice)
* breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (2 weeks’ notice)
* death of a tenant (2 months’ notice)
Notice periods for cases where there is four or more months’ of unpaid rent, will reduce to two months’ notice from 1 August. This is to support both landlords and tenants and responds to the greater difference between COVID and pre COVID notice periods for rent arrears.
Renters will continue to be supported with living costs, including rent, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until 30 September 2021.
Local Housing Allowance rates are being maintained at their increased level in cash terms, and the government has also extended the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit until the end of September.
For those who require additional support, the government has made £140m in Discretionary Housing Payments funding available for local authorities this financial year.
14 days’ notice is required before an eviction can take place. Therefore, no evictions are expected to take place before mid-June except in the most serious circumstances, and bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if they have been made aware that anyone living in the property has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.