The Government has released updated guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors due to the impact of Covid-19 and the reintroduction of lockdown restrictions in England.
The guidance relates specifically to possession notices and the Coronavirus Act 2020, and health and safety obligations, repairs and inspections in the context of the coronavirus.
Possession notices and the Coronavirus Act 2020
The guidance outlines that due to the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020 that landlords cannot commence proceedings to remove social and private tenants immediately (landlords have to give their tenants six months’ notice before they can begin possession proceedings). This provision has been extended by the Government and will remain in place until March 2021.
However, there are some exceptions to this provision, which are more serious cases involving anti-social behaviour, domestic violence, false statement and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to a value in excess of six months’ rent.
The original stay on possession proceedings, put in place by the Government, expired on 20th September 2020 and landlords have since been able progress their possession claim via the Courts, who are prioritising the more serious cases (e.g. those listed above).
Additionally, bailiffs have been told not to enforce evictions during the current national lockdown restrictions in England. Once again, the exceptions to this provision are the more serious instances (e.g. occupying a property illegally, anti-social behaviour, fraud, cases involving domestic abuse or where a property is unoccupied due to the death of a tenant). The Government has also stated that they intend to put in place a further exemption for ‘extreme pre-Covid rent arrears’ and they will be providing more information in relation to this shortly.
Whilst the provisions outlined above are subject to change and are being kept under review, they currently mean that evictions in England cannot be enforced until 11th January 2021 at the earliest point in time, except in more serious cases.
Guidance on understanding the possession action process can be found here.
Health and safety obligations, repairs and inspections in the context of the coronavirus
The guidance also provides details in relation to repairs and safety inspections being undertaken under the current lockdown restrictions, and when these restrictions have been relaxed and England returns to local COVID alert levels (tiers).
It specifies that landlords are permitted to carry out repairs and safety inspections provided they are undertaken safely and in accordance with public health advice and the relevant coronavirus legislation (this applies to both national lockdown and local three tier restrictions).
For more information on the guidance, click here.
How Nelsons can help
For further information in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Paula or another member of our team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.