Notice periods changing on October 1 – what do landlords need to know?

It’s been a momentous few years for landlords, riddled with new legislation, various deadlines and changing regulations – all while the property market attempts to navigate a post-Covid world as cases dwindle.

And with the UK government recently announcing changes to notice periods from October, landlords must be well-informed and prepared for what’s to come.

Below, we outline these changes and what landlords can expect from next month onwards.

What changes are coming to notice periods?

Earlier this month, the government confirmed that notice periods for evictions in England will return to their pre-Covid lengths from October 1 2021.

This means landlords giving notice of their intention to evict a tenant via a Section 21 notice will be required to give two months’ notice, down from the six months and then four months that has been in place prior to October 1.

Similarly to a Section 21 notice, the time scales for Section 8’s have reverted back to pre-covid lengths with the common grounds 8, 10 & 11 used in the event of rent arrears requring 14 days notice from 1st October.

The change formed part of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which set out to protect tenants by requiring landlords to provide longer notice periods when seeking possession of residential property in the social and private rental sectors.

What is the current notice period for evictions?

Some 18 months ago, evictions were banned in England and Wales and the notice period that landlords had to give was extended from two to six months, except in extreme cases such as anti-social behaviour.

The government also introduced a new mediation service aimed at helping landlords and tenants sort out any disputes.

The ban, which was extended three times, came to an end on June 1 2021, while the minimum notice period has been reduced from six to four months. It is now set to return to two months’ notice on October 1 2021.

Notice periods for cases where there are less than four months of unpaid rent, meanwhile, were reduced to two months in England from August 1 2021, with the notice period for arrears of more than four months remaining at four weeks.

Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving fraud or anti-social behaviour, with many of the evictions waiting to be enforced when the ban lifted predating the pandemic.

A statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, since renamed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “While these measures were appropriate at the height of the pandemic, these restrictions could only ever be temporary.”

“Returning notice periods to their pre-Covid lengths from October 1 will allow landlords to repossess their property where necessary.”

A welcome change, or more trouble on the horizon?

While this may be glad tidings for landlords, the government has warned that notice periods could be curtailed again if the pandemic were to worsen once more.

The government has laid a statutory instrument in parliament to return notice periods to their pre-Covid terms, but has inserted a clause that will allow them to be reinstated up until March 25 2022 ‘should the future public health situation warrant a further extension’.

What’s more, it will update the landlord, tenant and local authority renting guidance and court guidance in the coming days to reflect that notice periods will be reverting to their pre-Covid lengths. Prescribed forms to reflect the change will also be updated.

Looking ahead, there is still a hangover form the court suspension which means that some tenants have been able to rack up months of arrears without action, while some landlords have sold properties due to a busy sales market brought on by the stamp duty holiday.

While it certainly has been a heavy few months for landlords, upholding communication with your tenants and responding quickly to any issues can help to foster a harmonious relationship, lowering any chances of disputes or the need for mediation.

Now more than ever, working closely with an experienced, knowledgeable letting agent – one which understands the complex scope of the lettings sector and its regulations – can help to ensure your tenancy runs smoothly.

Here at Oakfield Estate Agents, we will do all we can to help you let your home successfully, using our years of knowledge and experience. For further information on how to manage the lettings process, please get in touch with us today