With the introduction of emergency lettings legislation measures to protect tenants during the pandemic, there have already been lots of changes to keep on top of. With the government announcement that there’s now a roadmap to ease eviction and notice period restrictions in line with the phased lifting of other COVID-19 restrictions, we though we’d take a look at the announced changes, as well as other things to look out for in the lettings industry – landlords, take note!
Evictions ban to be lifted
First up, we have this big one. The evictions ban was put in place to end bailiff evictions during the pandemic to protect tenants. As laid out in the recent announcement made by Housing Minister Chris Pincher, the evictions ban will end on 31st May 2021, so bailiff evictions can resume from 1st June 2021.
Changes to notice periods
Also from the 1st June, we’ll see changes made to notice periods in England. As part of the emergency COVID-19 legislation, notice periods were largely raised to 6 months during the pandemic (with serious cases having their own, lower required notice periods).
Notice periods previously set at 6 months, will reduce to at least 4 months, but those with extenuating circumstances will stay lower.
- Anti-social behaviour (immediate – 4 weeks’ notice)
- Domestic abuse (2 – 4 weeks’ notice)
- False statement (2 – 4 weeks’ notice)
- Rent arrears of over 4 months (4 weeks’ notice)
- Breach of ‘Right to Rent’ immigration rules (2 weeks’ notice)
- Death of a tenant (2 months’ notice)
The reason they’re doing this, is to keep longer notice periods to help protect tenants who may have been financially impacted as a result of the pandemic, while also allowing landlords access to justice. With 45% of private landlords only owning a single property, they are more vulnerable to suffer as a result of unpaid rent.
The planned phasing to ease restrictions, is with a view to returning to pre-pandemic notice periods in the autumn.
Housing Minister Chris Pincher, says: “Subject to the public health advice and progress with the Roadmap, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from October 1.”
The Queen’s Speech
In other industry news, the UK government announced their plans for the next parliamentary session earlier this month, via the Queen’s Speech. This included some quite big announcements for the property industry.
Firstly, although a bit thin on the ground with detail, there are going to be some developments for reform in the private rented sector.
Later this year, the government will be publishing the consultation response on abolishing Section 21, as well as detailed proposals on their idea of a ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit scheme, with the aim of improving affordability for tenants when it comes to moving home.
A White Paper will be published this autumn, setting out all of the details of the reform package and will be followed by legislation – definitely something to keep an eye on.
A confirmed end to ground rents
In the speech, there was confirmation of leasehold reform which would end ground rates – this echoes the announcement from Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, earlier this year.
This is great news for those looking to purchase leasehold property, with research conducted by Propertymark showing that nearly 50% of leasehold house owners were unaware of increasing ground rents when they made their purchase.
As it was announced, this will apply to new homeowners, but there are campaigns in place encouraging the government to extend this ban to current leasehold home owners as well as retirement properties, in order to make things fair across the board – so watch this space on that one.
The speech also saw a new Planning Bill announced, which aims to make the planning process faster, and harder for homeowners to block new housing schemes in a bid to help combat current supply and demand issues.
A new building safety regulator
This is part of the Building Safety Bill, and will see a new regulator being established for building safety, as well as changes to the building safety regime.
Keep up to date with lettings legislation
We have a lettings legislation page, which we keep up to date so you can keep informed of any legislative changes you need to know as a landlord.