This week has seen the introduction of the government’s emergency legislation, the Coronavirus Act 2020. The act provides key legislation aimed at the residential letting market, in particular relating to the suspension of all evictions from residential landlords, with the aim of protecting tenants of England and Wales during this crisis.

The legislation states that any notices served by a landlord seeking to bring a tenancy to an end (pursuant to either section 8 or section 21 of The Housing Act 1988) served between 25th March 2020 and 30th September 2020 must now have a minimum of 3 months’ notice, in contrast to the normal period of 2 months. The primary aim of the legislation is to allow tenants to remain in accommodation pending the current pandemic and all associated movement restrictions. Naturally, this will afford the tenants greater leeway with rental income and time to seek alternative accommodation.

It follows that it is now significantly longer before a landlord can take court action to seek possession of their property. All new notices to vacate can not be enforced at court for the next three months and the court service has suspended all ongoing possession proceedings for 90 days (likely to be extended if needed). This measure is to protect all private and social renters during this time.

Whilst these measures will have detrimental prospects for any landlord with bills and a mortgage to pay, these are unprecedented times and it is the government’s intention to protect tenants during the widespread pandemic. Landlords are therefore encouraged to support this legislation and show compassion to those who are struggling in light of this economic reality.

It is worth noting that all payment obligations under existing tenancy agreements remain the same and unaffected by the legislation. This means that rent continues to be payable on the due date by the tenant, irrespective of the fact possession claims have been suspended. It is recommended therefore that all rental payments are made in line with your tenancy, to avoid further action being taken by your landlord at a later date.

We appreciate that this is an uncertain time for both landlords and tenants. Here at Levins, we will continue to closely monitor any further changes to the legislation over the upcoming few months. Should you require further advice regarding housing at this time, whether a residential landlord or private tenant, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a solicitor at Levins on 0151 480 5777. Most importantly, please ensure you seek legal advice before serving any notices until 30th September 2020.