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26 March, 2020 Open access

Coronavirus Act sets minimum three month notice period for eviction for statutory tenants in the private and social rented sectors

However, new law does not prevent landlords from serving a notice of intention to possess, nor does it end a tenant's liability for rental payments

The Coronavirus Act 2020 has set a minimum three month notice period for eviction for statutory tenants in the private and social rented sectors.

The protection from eviction measures - set out in section 81 and schedule 29 of the emergency legislation that received Royal Assent yesterday - delay when landlords are able to evict tenants. This is enabled either by extending the notice period that a landlord is required to serve on a tenant to at least three months or, in some cases, creating a three months’ notice requirement where a requirement to give notice does not currently exist. However, the explanatory notes accompanying the Coronavirus Bill highlight that the legislation does not prevent a landlord from serving a notice of intention to possess, nor does it end a tenant’s liability for rental payments.

NB - the measures apply to all landlords who have granted tenancies governed by the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Acts 1985, 1988 and 1996 - this covers all statutory tenants in the private and social rented sectors but does not include common law tenancies or licenses (other than secure licenses). The provisions cover England and Wales but Scotland and Northern Ireland have differing tenancy systems which are a devolved competence.

The explanatory notes also advise that the provisions apply for a specified period of time, from the date of Royal Assent to 30 September 2020. However, they allow the Secretary of State to change the date on which they end, or to extend the three month notice period to a maximum of six months. 

Coronavirus Act 2020 is available from legislation.gov.uk

Stop press: the government has announced tonight that, in addition to landlords needing to give people three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession -

'From tomorrow (27 March 2020) following a decision by the Master of the Rolls with the Lord Chancellors agreement the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in the or any about to go in the system can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. This suspension of housing possessions action will initially last for 90 days, but this can be extended if needed. This measure will protect all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This will apply to both England and Wales.'

NB - the Scottish Government has already confirmed that it will introduce emergency legislation to ensure that there are no evictions as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).