I know, I know – it is a Wednesday, so you weren’t expecting new regulations and forms. Let alone a couple of weeks before they come into effect. But here they are! (For England only)
The Govt announced that from 1 June 2021 there will be new notice periods for NTQs/notice seeking possession on tenancies. Rather than reverting to the pre pandemic notice requirements, there will be a further period from 1 June 2021 to 30 September 2021 in which 4 months notice will be required, down from 6 months. (Except where it will change on 1 August 2021, on which more below).
There are the same exceptions as before, but crucially, the rent arrears exception has changed such that only 4 weeks notice is required where rent arrears are over 4 months (down from 6 months).
(The govt announcement says
Notice periods for cases where there is four or more months’ of unpaid rent, will reduce to 2 months’ notice from 1 August. This is to support both landlords and tenants and responds to the greater difference between COVID and pre COVID notice periods for rent arrears.
As far as I can see, this is actually wrong. The notice period for arrears claims of LESS than 4 months worth of arrears changed from 4 months to 2 months on 1 August. Detail below.)
The other headline is that the eviction ban ends on 31 May 2021.
At the same time – in another departure from the ‘new normal’ two regulations were laid:
The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 – coming into effect on 31 May 2021, and
The Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) and Suspension (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021, coming into effect on 1 June 2021.
The former amends Schedule 29 Coronavirus Act 2020 (as amended by The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 ) to provide for the revised notice periods from 1 June to 30 September 2021.
The general notice period for Rent Act, secure, introductory, demoted, assured and assured shorthold tenancies is revised from 6 months to 4 months.
The period in which proceeding can be issued on a section 21 notice is revised from 10 months from service to 8 months from service. (So a 4 month window after a 4 month notice period.)
The exceptions to the ‘longer’ notice periods remain as before, except where they don’t. The big changes are for rent arrears.
Where rent arrears are at least 4 months worth, the notice period is 4 weeks.
And – just to make things really complicated for anyone trying to work out notice periods – for rent arrears grounds where the arrears are less than 4 months, the notice period will change as of 1 August 2021. From 1 August 2021 the notice period will be two months.
The new forms (amendment) Regs do two things.
First, as of 1 June 2021, paragraph 12(1) of Schedule 29 to the Coronavirus Act 2020 will be suspended. This is the para that says to read the prescribed forms 3 and 6A (section 21 and section 8 respectively) as if specified bullet points said 6 months notice.
Second, there are new prescribed forms 3 and 6A inserted into the forms regs as of 1 June. The notes to these forms include both the ‘breathing space’ regs references that caused so much trouble last Friday, and the new notice periods – including both the ‘before and after 1 August but less than 4 months arrears’ notice periods.
So, the forms should be useable from 1 June 2021 (or indeed before, as they will the prescribed form on 1 June, so any s.8 or s.21 notice sent that will be deemed served on or after 1 June should be in this form).
Of course, if the notice periods change after 30 September 2021, there will need to be new forms. But at least from 1 June 2021, these forms appear to work, and what is more will clear up the mess of the period 4 May 2021 to 31 May 2021 where the prescribed form 3 couldn’t be used and MHCLG’s own published version was and is quite possibly not lawful.
So, new dates to remember for when forms must be used (at least a couple of working days before they are in force, if sent by post), when notice periods change (and indeed change again for rent arrears grounds).