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Ban on residential evictions - updated 25 March 2020

View profile for Joseph Mitchell
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The Government has announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, there is to be a ban on all new possession proceedings for all residential tenancies for at least three months, whether it is social housing or privately rented.

The draft legislation has now been released and the Government’s approach has been to extend all notice periods for residential tenants to vacate their property to three months. For the most common notices, this will mean that the usual two month period for a  Section 21 notice will be extended to 3 months and the usual 14 day notice period for a Section 8 notice will also be extended to three months (in respect of the latter, rent arrears will no doubt be increasing in the interim).  The Government also has the power to alter the three month period to a maximum period of six months.

What does this mean for my mortgage?

If a tenant is struggling to pay rent or falls into arrears, the laws being proposed by the Government will allow a landlord with a buy-to-let mortgage to obtain a three-month payment holiday. This will offer some respite for cases where rent isn’t being paid. 

What about after the three months is over?

The Government has made it clear that they expect landlords to be sympathetic to tenants. Once the three-month period is over, it is expected that landlords and tenants will work closely to organise a repayment plan of any rent arrears. Landlords will need to make sure they keep their lender informed so that when repayment plans are put into action, the mortgage can still be paid.  There is also the possibility that the three-month period may be extended up to a period of six months.

I already have a possession order – what is going to happen?

It appears that, for the time being, all existing appointments for evictions will go ahead as planned, unless the position changes and bailiffs are unable to carry out the eviction.  Various High Court enforcement groups are already confirming that they will not be making any new eviction appointments at the present time and it is suspected that the County Court bailiffs will follow.

If you have any questions about an ongoing tenancy please contact a member of our Property Disputes team: Sarah Whitehurst, Joseph Mitchell or George Faulkner.