New Section 21 Notice – updated September 2020

Posted on 7th September 2020

We previously described the new requirements the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 introduced including a new corresponding Section 21 Notice form 6a to be used from 1 June 2019.

Restrictions on service of a Section 21 Notice

Since the Deregulation Act 2015 and Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirement (England) Regulations 2015 landlords are prevented from using a section 21 (no fault based) notice to evict tenants in the following circumstances:

  • during the first 4 months of the tenancy (but where the tenancy is a replacement tenancy, the four month period is calculated by reference to the start of the original tenancy and not the start of the replacement tenancy)
  • where the landlord is prevented from retaliatory eviction;
  • where the landlord has not provided the tenant with an energy performance certificate, gas safety certificate, “How to rent” booklet, and now an Electrical Certificate (since 1st July 2020);
  • where the landlord has not complied with the tenancy deposit protection legislation;
  • where a property requires a licence but is unlicensed, or
  • where the landlord is prevented under section 17 of the Tenant Fees Act 2019

The New Section 21 Notice – September 2020

There has been much news on the stay on possessions claims in court being extended now until 30th September 2020.

However, landlords also have to be aware that there are additional restrictions on serving a section 21 Notice, which will add even further delays to obtaining possession.

The new 6a form applies from September 2020. A landlord is now required to give a minimum of 6 months’ notice (instead of the usual 2 months).

A section 21 notice will now expire after 10 months (up from 6 months previously) – which means if you have not issued possession proceedings in that time, you will have to serve a new section 21 notice.

Alternatives to section 21 Notices

Landlords keen to avoid the above delays in obtaining possession may decide to use alternative grounds to seek possession.

A section 8 notice can be used instead but requires there to be a reason for seeking possession, such as rent arrears or nuisance.

Whilst the new 6 month notice also applies to section 8 notices, there are certain exceptions including very high rent arrears (of at least 6 months), in which case the notice period is only 4 weeks.

A very useful table from the Government’s ‘Technical guidance on evictions notices’ is re-created below in respect of the modified notice periods if a landlord is proposing to use a section 8 notice to seek possession:

GROUNDPRE
CORONAVIRUS
ACT 2020 notice
period: Until 26 March
2020
MODIFIED
NOTICE
PERIOD
26 March
2020 – 28
August 2020
MODIFIED NOTICE PERIOD
29 August 2020-31 March 2021
Mandatory
1: Landlord wants to move in2 months3 months6 months
2: Mortgage repossession2 months3 months6 months
3: Out of season holiday let2 weeks3 months6 months
4: Let to student by an educational
institution
2 weeks3 months6 months
5: Property required for use by minister of religion2 months3 months6 months
6: Demolition / redevelopment2 weeks3 months6 months
7: Death of tenant2 months3 months6 months
7a: Serious antisocial behaviour4 weeks (periodic
tenancy)
1 month (fixed
term tenancy)
3 months4 weeks (periodic tenancy
1 month (fixed-term tenancy)
7b: No right to
rent in the UK
2 weeks3 months6 months
8: Serious rent arrears at time of service of notice and  possession proceedings2 weeks3 monthsa) 4 weeks where arrears are at
least 6 months
b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months 3 months
Discretionary
9: Alternative accommodation available2 months3 months6 months
10: Some rent arrears at the time of service of
notice and possession proceedings
2 weeksa) 4 weeks where arrears are at
least 6 months
b) 6 months where arrears are
less than 6 months
11: Persistent late payment of rent2 weeks3 monthsa) 4 weeks where arrears are at
least 6 months
b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months
12: Breach of tenancy agreement2 weeks3 months6 months
13: Tenant deteriorated property2 weeks3 months6 months
14: Nuisance/annoyance, illegal/immoral use of propertyNone
proceedings may
be commenced
immediately after
service of notice
3 monthsNone- proceedings may be
commenced immediately after
service of notice
14A: Domestic abuse (social tenancies only –
where victim has permanently left the property)
2 weeks3 months2 weeks
14ZA: Rioting2 weeks3 months2 weeks
15: Tenant has deteriorated furniture2 weeks3 months6 months
16: Employment2 months3 months6 months
17: False statement2 weeks3 months2 weeks

 

The future of Section 21 Notices

Section 21 notices are no longer an easy route for landlords to seek possession especially given the impact of COVID-19 and the pressure for the Government to prevent unnecessary evictions and homelessness.

Further, there was also proposal and consultation on whether we should follow suit of Scotland and abolish no fault based evictions completely.

Our specialist Dispute Resolution Solicitors have many years’ experience in the law surrounding evictions and landlord-tenant disputes. If you require our advice, please call us on 0808 231 6369 or request a call back online at your convenience.

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