The Government introduced the Coronavirus Act in 2020 as a direct response to the Coronavirus pandemic. For the rental market, landlords and tenants saw some changes in the form of an increase in the notice periods for both Section 8 and Section 21 Notices. In this article, we look at the latest changes to notice periods and the prescribed forms needed when intending to start eviction proceedings.
What Changes Have Occurred To The Timescales?
On 1st October this year, the notice periods in England for assured shorthold tenancies for both Section 8 and 21 Notices returned to their previous pre-COVID timescales. The timescales are now as follows:
- Section 21 Notice– returned to 2 months
- Section 8 using ground 7a (anti-social behaviour with a conviction) – returned to a calendar month
- Section 8 using Ground 14 (the discretionary ground for anti-social behaviour) – returned to immediately after the notice counts as served which is usually 24 hours
- Section 8 Notice – grounds 8, 10 & 11 (where arrears exceed the equivalent of 4 months’ rent) – returned to 2 weeks
- Section 8 Notice – grounds 8, 10 & 11 (where arrears are less than the equivalent of 4 months’ rent) – returned to 2 weeks
Can The Notice Periods be extended again?
The Government has extended the period during which they can change the notice periods again, until 25th March 2022. This can, of course, mean that the Government can once again change the notice periods if they feel it is necessary.
Another important point to note is that any notices that were served before 1 October 2021 will still need to comply with the rules that were in force at that time – this means four months’ notice typically.
What About The Changes To The Prescribed Forms?
The forms used to inform a tenant of the intention to bring proceedings, otherwise known as ‘prescribed forms’ have also been amended in response to the return to pre-COVID notice periods, under the new legislation. The newly updated forms, reflecting the return to pre-Covid timescales can be found in Schedule 2 of the updated legislation. It’s important to note that both Form 6a (Section 21) and the Form 3 (Section 8) are prescribed forms. This means that landlords must make sure that they use the correct version before serving the notice. All 9 of the forms necessary for landlords to propose action relating to tenancy agreements can be downloaded from the Government website. It is of vital importance to proceedings that the correct form is served with the correct, amended timescale clearly shown within. If the correct form is not used, then it is likely that the proceedings will not go ahead. When downloading any of the forms needed for either a section 8 or section 21 notice, ensure that the accompanying guidance form is also downloaded as the specific guidance for each notice is no longer in the main document.
Eviction notices have changed a lot over the last 18 months and it is important to ensure that you are fully up-to-speed with the current legislation when looking to serve a notice. If you are in any doubt, ensure you seek advice from a legal expert.