How Wales has taken a more tenant friendly approach than England during the Covid-19 pandemic
At the outset of the pandemic, in both England and Wales similar approaches were taken to protect tenants who were at risk of eviction during Covid-19, most of which were contained in the Coronavirus Act 2020. Due to the devolved powers held by the Welsh Government, we are now seeing increasingly different approaches taken in the two nations and therefore the rights of tenants now depend on where they live.
In Wales, the protections of the Coronavirus Act 2020 have now been extended until the end of 2021. These protections mean that for most residential tenants, a statutory notice period of six months must still be given.
What is a statutory notice period?
The statutory notice period is the time between when you are officially informed that your landlord is seeking to evict you and when they can begin the court process to do so. You can only be legally evicted when there is a court order allowing this. Therefore the practical effect of this protection is an eviction in Wales will take six months, plus the time it takes to obtain an order from the court. There are some limited exceptions where a shorter notice period applies, such as when:
- You live with your landlord, for example as a lodger
- The reason for the eviction is anti-social behaviour
- Notice was received before September 2020
In England, these provisions ended on 1 October 2021, after an interim reduction from six to four months’ notice which applied between 31 May to 30 September. The statutory notice period is now between two weeks and two months, depending on the circumstances of the case. This gives tenants in England significantly less protection from possession proceedings. You can read more about this approach in our blog ‘An End To Extended Notice Periods From 1 October 2021’.
The effect of these different approaches means that residential tenants in England are more likely to be forced to leave their homes this winter than their Welsh counterparts. Protections for Welsh tenants are not absolute and buying a home in Wales in more unaffordable than ever before, as house prices in Wales are rising faster than any other nation in the UK. However, with a tough winter ahead and the furlough scheme having ended, the Welsh regulations should continue to provide some support while many continue to struggle.