Lettings and lockdown restrictions

Lettings and lockdown restrictions – what you need to know about recent changes to tenancy notice periods

As restrictions ease further, it’s important for landlords to get to grips with what they mean for them and their tenants.

In line with the loosening of many restrictions that came into effect on Monday 17th May, section 21 notice periods have been revised to four months with effect from 1st June. Previously extended to 6 months to make allowances for issues tenants may have faced during the worst of the pandemic, the new notice period is designed to offer tenants and landlords protection during the UK’s transition out of lockdown. 

While protecting tenants and their needs is of paramount importance – especially if they’ve been affected by the pandemic – support for landlords too is on the agenda and very much needed. This phased return to pre-pandemic notice periods, which will revert on 1st October subject to public health advice, will try to mitigate the exposure of landlords, especially to rent arrears. Around 45% of landlords own just one property and are vulnerable to rent arrears.

The government has set out a comprehensive suite of support for anyone experiencing changes to their financial position including the furlough scheme and the Universal Credit uplift, which have both been extended until the end of September. While this has been good news for some tenants, many landlords have been left in a difficult position unable to meet their own financial responsibilities due to tenant rent arrears.

The current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, will end on 31st May, however, any tenant with COVID symptoms or who is self-isolating is exempt from proceedings. With 14 days’ notice required before an eviction can take place, no evictions are expected to take place before mid-June except in the most serious circumstances.

These include:
- 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)
- four months or more 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 less than four months’ of unpaid rent, will reduce again to two months’ notice from 1st August.

Housing Minister, Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP 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, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.”

Working with Jackson-Stops – an experienced ARLA registered letting agent – will ensure that you and your property are in safe hands. We’ll navigate the continually changing landscape of lettings on your behalf to make sure that you can comply with changes to legislations as they are brought in.

If you’re a landlord or a tenant and would like more details of our comprehensive lettings service, please contact our lettings teams who would be delighted to help. Find our branches here.