Eviction rules for tenants and landlords have changed
The ban on evictions offering tenants in England protection during the coronavirus pandemic has now come to end.
As an emergency measure, the government temporarily banned bailiff-enforced evictions and eviction notice periods were extended from two months to six months.
The ban, put in place in March 2020, was intended as a short-term measure, but it has been extended several times to help tenants who have fallen behind in rent payments during the pandemic.
What has changed?
From 1st June 2021, the notice period a landlord must give a tenant to leave a property has dropped from six months to four months in England, and the ban has been lifted on evictions enforced by bailiffs.
From 1st October 2021, eviction notice periods will return to two months.
To find out how eviction rules vary in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, see below.
What should you do if you can’t pay your rent?
You’re still legally obligated to continue paying the same amount of rent if your financial situation has changed during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re struggling to pay your rent, it’s a good idea to speak to your landlord as soon as possible. An early conversation could help you to agree a repayment plan.
Citizens Advice has published a guide to the things you can do if you’re struggling to pay your bills because of coronavirus, which includes advice on managing rent arrears.
Your landlord may also be having difficulties meeting mortgage repayments. The government has worked with the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) to produce a guide for both landlords and tenants, which offers advice on managing rental arrears.
If disputes over rent or other matters remain ongoing, mediation should be considered. This process allows an independent third-party to assist you both in trying to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve the situation. The government is funding a pilot mediation service for cases that have reached the courts from February 2021, which is free for landlords and tenants to use.
Governments in Scotland and Wales have introduced loan schemes to help tenants who are experiencing financial difficulties (see details below), but at the moment there are no similar schemes in England or Northern Ireland.
How does the eviction process work?
You can only be evicted if correct procedure has been followed. The first step a landlord must take to end your tenancy is to serve a Section 21 or Section 8 notice with the date they want you to leave.
If you stay past this date, the landlord will need to get a possession order from the court and an eviction notice will be sent you, which can lead to a bailiff-enforced eviction.
Reasons for evictions
Section 21 notice
If your landlord wants to end your tenancy early, they can do so without a reason by serving a Section 21 notice, which gives a date for you to leave your home by.
You can be given this notice if your tenancy has no fixed end date – which is known as a ‘periodic’ tenancy – or after your fixed-term tenancy ends.
Section 8 notice
If you’re a private tenant and there has been a breach of your tenancy agreement, a landlord can end the tenancy by serving a Section 8 notice citing any of the following reasons:
- If you’ve fallen behind on your rent for more than 8 weeks if you pay weekly; two months if you pay monthly; or three months if you pay quarterly
- If your landlord thinks you’ve moved out
- If you’ve damaged the property
- If you’ve received noise or nuisance complaints from neighbours
The minimum notice period for evictions drops back to two weeks if there has been a breach of your tenancy agreement.
A landlord can’t evict you if you, or anyone you live with, has tested positive for coronavirus, or has symptoms, or has been told by the NHS to self-isolate.
What are the eviction rules in Wales?
The eviction ban has been extended until 30 June 2021 in Wales, however this is subject to regular reviews.
A landlord will need to give you six months’ notice before eviction proceedings can begin.
If you’re struggling to pay your rent, the Welsh government has introduced the low-interest Tenant Saver Loan Scheme. This offers a five-year repayment loan for rent arrears, which will be paid directly to your landlord. Applications are open until 30 September 2021.
Have there been changes to eviction rules in Scotland?
The eviction ban in Scotland has been extended until 30 September 2021 for areas under level 3 or level 4 coronavirus restrictions, however this is subject to review every three weeks. Evictions can be enforced in all other locations in Scotland.
A landlord is required to give you six months’ notice, or 28 days’ notice if there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement. If your landlord has decided to move in to the property, the notice period drops to three months.
In December 2020, the Scottish Government introduced the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund. If your finances or employment has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and you’re struggling to pay your rent, this interest-free loan covers a maximum of nine months’ worth of rent arrears. The loan is subject to an affordability assessment and repayments will be deferred for six months and repaid over a five-year period.
How long is the eviction notice period in Northern Ireland?
There is no eviction ban in Northern Ireland, but a landlord will need to give you 12 weeks’ notice before starting the eviction process until 30 September 2021.
READ MORE: A guide to ending or extending your tenancy