Moratorium on possessions – Coronavirus Bill
Amendments have now been made to the Coronavirus Bill which will go before the House of Commons today, 24 March 2020.
In essence, the sections that have been added into the Bill provide that any notices served under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985 or the Housing Act 1988 require tenants to be given three months notice. The relevant prescribed forms for the Notices to Quit and secure and assured Notice Seeking Possession will be amended accordingly.
This means that even if a landlord wishes to bring a claim for possession under a mandatory ground or for nuisance insofar as secure and assured tenants are concerned, the notice period that will have to be given is three months. This notice period may also be extended by the Government up to a six month notice period.
It also means that assured shorthold tenants must be given 3 months' notice, as opposed to 2 months when they are served with a Form 6A.
It should be noted that these provisions do not extend to licences or contractual tenancies, property guardians, people in temporary homeless accommodation or most employment related accommodation. It also appears that notices served before the commencement date will remain valid. However it is difficult to envisage that courts will be willing to make immediate possession orders based upon any such notices in the foreseeable future. Furthermore the Lord Chief Justice has already recognised that any applications to suspend warrants of possession should be prioritised. More information about this can be found here.
Given the current climate and given the Government's promise that no renters either in social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time, none of these measures should take us by surprise.