Solicitor, Leanne Donoghue, explains the notice periods and new forms applicable to residential possession claims from 1st October 2021.
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With notice periods for residential possession proceedings in England today returning to their pre-pandemic levels, here’s what to expect.
Court delays for possession
Although most landlords had not sought possession during the pandemic, the Court Service experienced significant delays despite their reduced caseload. Moreover, the return to shorter notice periods has further exacerbated this problem. As a result, you should expect lengthy delays for both court hearings and bailiff appointments.
Recent notice periods
With several changes in notice periods in recent months, it’s understandable that there has been a lot of confusion. To recap, between 1st June and 31st July 2021, a notice period of at least four months was required if the landlord served either a Section 21 notice or a Section 8 notice. However, from 1st August to 30th September 2021, the notice period for cases involving less than four months of unpaid rent was reduced to 2 months.
Shorter notice periods have applied where:
- the tenant has died – 2 months’ notice;
- there are four months of accumulated rent arrears – 4 weeks’ notice;
- there has been anti-social behaviour – from immediate to 4 weeks’ notice;
- there has been domestic abuse in the social sector – 2 to 4 weeks’ notice;
- there has been a breach of immigration rules under the ‘Right to Rent’ scheme – 2 weeks’ notice;
- there has been a false statement – 2 to 4 weeks’ notice.
Notice periods for possession from 1st October 2021
With today’s return to pre-pandemic levels, the following notice periods will apply for assured shorthold tenancies:
- Section 21 – two months’ notice;
- Section 8 using grounds 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 or 16 – two months’ notice (remember, it cannot expire before the end of the fixed term);
- Section 8 using grounds 3, 4, 7b, 12, 13, 14A, 15 or 17 – two weeks’ notice;
- Section 8 using the rent arrears grounds (8, 10 and 11) – two weeks’ notice;
- Section 8 using ground 7a (anti-social behaviour with a conviction) – one calendar month’s notice;
- Section 8 using Ground 14 (the discretionary ground for anti-social behaviour) – immediately after the notice is properly served.
It’s important to note that any notice served before 1st October 2021 must comply with the rules which were current at the date of service.
New Section 8 and Section 21 forms
The recent legislation has introduced new versions of the Section 8 and Section 21 notices. Both Form 6a (Section 21) and Form 3 (Section 8) are prescribed forms, which means landlords must ensure they use the correct version for service. The wording of both forms has changed considerably.
Forms can be downloaded from gov.uk.
Possession proceedings in Wales
Remember the above applies only to England. For possession proceedings in Wales, on 23rd September 2021, the devolved administration announced that the requirement for 6 months’ notice for residential possession would be extended again, this time to 31st December 2021