Tenants with substantial rent arrears can now be served eviction notices ever since Public Health England published this update to the regulations in November, writes Karen Bright, Head of our Litigation team.
However, this will only apply to cases where the equivalent of nine months’ rent arrears had accrued prior to the 23rd March 2020, when the country went into national lockdown.
Reported here, Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action said, “This is very welcome news for those landlords whose tenants had stopped paying rent months prior to the pandemic and, until now, had been given carte blanche to continue living rent-free.
“However, there are concerns about how long it will take those landlords, whose arrears cases fall short of the Government’s definition of ‘substantial’ i.e. nine months, to regain possession.”
With the current lockdown and then the Christmas amnesty, evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs until 11 January 2021 at the very earliest, so even in the best case scenario, those landlords will be facing more than 17 months without rent.
Some privately rented homes need a property licence before they can be rented out to tenants, to show that the property is suitable to be lived in and managed to an acceptable standard. Confusingly, different London boroughs have different property licensing rules, which can make it difficult for tenants to know whether their landlord has the right licence.
The Mayor of London launched a property licensing checker that lets you see if your rented property needs a licence. Without the correct licence your tenant might be due a refund up to the value of twelve months’ rent and it may invalidate any Section 21 notice which may have been served.
So whilst thousands of tenants have received protection from eviction during the pandemic, landlords could be forgiven for thinking the government has overlooked the important service private landlords provide to the housing sector. It cannot be fair that a landlord should be covering the rent for someone who was already failing to pay rent long before the pandemic started.
For those landlords who had several months of rent arrears prior to March, and must now wait untill 11 January 2021 to serve eviction notices for tenants unwilling, or unable to pay their rent, the financial cost of Covid is weighing very heavily on their shoulders.
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The above is accurate as at 01 December 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.