New s21 and s8 notice periods

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The recently announced new notice periods relating to s21 and s8 of the Housing Act 1988 came into force on 29 August 2020 and will remain in place until March 2021. Notices served on or before 28 August are not affected by the changes so that the legislation is not retrospective.

Landlords serving s21 notices must now give six months’ notice. Form 6A has been amended accordingly. The requirement for the landlord to issue possession proceedings within six months of service of the s21 notice, which would have led to the perverse outcome that the landlord would have no time to issue proceedings when the six month notice period expired, has been changed to allow the landlord to issue proceedings within ten months’ of service of the s21.

There is some good news for landlords, as the Government has taken the opportunity to refine the notice periods required when dealing with different grounds for possession. This means that serious ASB and large arrears of rent require less notice.

Whilst most landlords will need to give six months’ notice in cases where rent arrears have accrued, landlords whose tenants have accrued six months or more arrears in total by the date a s8 notice is served must give four weeks’ notice (as opposed to the six months’ notice required where arrears are at a level below six months).

Landlords serving on ground 14 (ASB) may once again serve the notice and issue proceedings immediately, although the Court stay of possession proceedings will mean that any claim is stayed until 20 September.

Landlords serving on ground 7A (conviction of a serious offence/breach of injunction or following the making of a closure order) must give four weeks’ notice, which was the notice requirement for this mandatory ground for possession before the changes made by the Government as a result of the pandemic.

Domestic violence cases require two weeks’ notice.

Moving forward, landlords are advised to carefully check the notice that they are required to give, as this will optimise any shorter notice periods now available and also ensure that enough notice is given to avoid the service of a defective notice.

Revised notices which are now in effect (Form 3 for section 8 possession notices and Form 6A for notices under s21) may be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/assured-tenancy-forms.