The Government has announced that renters will continue to be supported as national COVID-19 restrictions ease (Support for renters continues with longer notice periods - GOV.UK).

Notice periods from 1 June 2021

Subject to public health advice, the Government will return notice periods to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October. Until then however, and from 1 June, there will be a transitional period where notice periods will be amended, but not to pre-pandemic levels.

In the case of Section 21 Notices (under the Housing Act 1988), 4 months' notice must be given (reduced from 6 months'). The period in which proceedings can be issued is revised to 8 months' from service of the notice.

In the case of Section 8 Notices (under the Housing Act 1988), notice periods for the most serious cases will remain lower. In respect of Section 8 notices served on the basis of rent arrears (Grounds 8, 10 and 11):

a. where there are less than 4 months' rent unpaid the notice period will be:

     i. four months' notice; unless

     ii. it is served after 1 August 2021, in which case it will be two months' notice.

b. where the above does not apply, four weeks' notice.

In respect of Rent Act notices to quit:

a. where the circumstances in Case 2 (Schedule 15 Rent Act 1977) applies or at the time the notice is served 4 months' or more rent is unpaid, the notice period is 4 weeks

b. where the above (a) does not apply and the circumstances specified in Case 10A (Schedule 15 Rent Act 1977) applies, and provided no other circumstances in that Schedule apply, the notice period is 4 weeks

c. where the above (a) and (b) do not apply and the circumstances specified in Case 1 (Schedule 15 Rent Act 1977) applies, and provided no other circumstances in that Schedule apply and at the time the notice is given, less than 4 months' rent is unpaid, and the notice is given on or after 1 August 2021, the notice period is 2 months; and

d. where the above (a), (b) and (c) do not apply, the notice period is 4 months.

In relation to Rent Act 1977 statutory tenancies:

a. where the notice of intention to commence possession proceedings specifies a ground that corresponds to Case 2 (Schedule 15 Rent Act 1977), whether or not the notice specifies any other ground, or at the time the notice is served 4 months' or more rent is unpaid, the notice period is 4 weeks

b. where the above (a) does not apply and the notice of intention to commence possession proceedings specifies a ground that corresponds to Case 10A (Schedule 15 Rent Act 1977) and no other ground is specified, the notice period is 4 weeks

c. where the above (a) and (b) do not apply and the notice of intention to commence possession proceedings specified a ground that corresponds to Case 1 (Schedule 15 Rent Act 1977), no other ground is specified, at the time the notice is given less than 4 months' rent is unpaid and the notice is given on or after 1 August 2021, the notice period is 2 months; and

d. where the above (a), (b) and (c) do not apply, the notice period is 4 months.

In respect of flexible tenancies under the Housing Act 1985, for notices given under Section 107D(4), the notice period is 4 months.

In respect of introductory tenancies under the Housing Act 1996:

a. where the landlord has specified in the notice of proceedings an "ASB" reason to apply for a possession order, whether or not the landlord has any other reason, the notice period is 4 weeks

b. if a landlord has not specified in the notice of proceedings an "ASB" reason for applying for a possession order and the landlord has specified a reason which corresponds to Ground 5 (Schedule 2 Housing Act 1985), and whether or not the landlord has any other reason, the notice period is 4 weeks

c. where the above (a) and (b) do not apply and the landlord has specified in the notice of proceedings only a reason which corresponds to Ground 1 (Schedule 2 Housing Act 1985), and at the time the notice is served at least 4 months' rent is unpaid, the notice period is 4 weeks. Alternatively, if less than 4 months' rent is unpaid and the notice is served on or after 1 August 2021, the notice period is 2 months; and

d. in any other case, the notice period is 4 months.

In respect of demoted tenancies under the Housing Act 1996:

a. where a landlord has specified in the notice of proceedings an "ASB" reason, whether or not the landlord has any other reason, the notice period is 4 weeks

b. where the above (a) does not apply and the landlord has specified in the notice of proceedings a reason which corresponds to Ground 5 (Schedule 2 Housing Act 1985), whether or not the landlord has any other reason, the notice period is 4 weeks

c. where the above (a) and (b) do not apply and the landlord has specified in the notice of proceedings only a reason which corresponds to Ground 1 (Schedule 2 Housing Act 1985), and at the time the notice is served at least 4 months' rent is unpaid, the notice period is 4 weeks. Alternatively, if less than 4 months' rent is unpaid and the notice is served on or after 1 August 2021, the notice period is 2 months; and

d. in any other case, the notice period is 4 months.

In relation to secure tenancies under the Housing Act 1985:

a. the notice period is 4 weeks where any one or more of the following grounds (Schedule 2 Housing Act 1985) is specified in the notice:

    i. Ground 1, where at the time the notice is served at least 4 months' rent is unpaid; or

    ii. Ground 2ZA, 2A or 5 and no other ground is specified.

b. where the above (a) does not apply and Ground 1 (in Schedule 2 Housing Act 1985) is specified in the notice, no other ground is specified, at the time the notice is served less than 4 months' rent is unpaid and if the notice is served on or after 1 August 2021, the notice period is 2 months; and

c. where the above (a) and (b) do not apply, the notice period is 4 months.

New forms

As a result of the changes to the notice periods, and with effect from 1 June 2021, new prescribed forms of Section 21 and Section 8 notices will need to be used as these will make reference to the new 'Breathing Space' regulations and the new notice periods. In light of the changes to the prescribed forms of notice, landlords and agents serving notices prior to 1 June 2021, but where the timing and manner of service results in the notice being 'deemed' served on or after 1 June, will need to ensure the new prescribed form of notice is used. Failure to do so could result in any subsequent possession claim being dismissed on the basis the notice was invalid as it was not the correct prescribed version. The changes will also amend the form of notice to be used in relation to secure tenancies.

Evictions

The current ban on evictions will end on 31 May 2021. However, bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating. The Government has noted that 14 days’ notice is required before an eviction can take place. Accordingly, it is not expected that evictions can recommence until mid-June except in the most serious circumstances.

Court proceedings

The Government has confirmed that Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving fraud or anti-social behaviour.

Expected future developments

The Government will publish a White Paper in the autumn setting out proposals to create a fairer private rented sector that works for both landlords and tenants. This will include proposals for the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and a new ‘lifetime deposit’ to ease the burden when moving house.