Coronavirus update: residential property and commercial property

Residential Property

Notice periods required to be given to tenants have temporarily changed in light of the  Coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to 26 March 2020 a landlord wishing to serve a section 8 notice on their tenant for non-payment of rent was only required to give a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice. We published a news update in March 2020 explaining how this notice period had been extended to a period of 3 months.

Similarly prior to 26 March 2020 a landlord wishing to serve a section 21 notice on their tenant was only required to give a minimum period of 2 months’ notice. In our same news update we explained that this too had been extended to a 3 month notice period.

These were temporary amendments until September 2020.

We also reported that the 3 months notice period could change in time from anywhere between 3 months to 6 months and that the need to give longer notice periods could also, in time, be extended beyond September 2020.

New extensions and modifications to the legislation have now come into force meaning that a landlord wishing to serve either a section 8 notice or a section 21 notice after 28 August 2020 must give their tenant at least 6 months’ notice. There are some exceptions to this notice period, the most common of which will be where the tenant is in at least 6 months’ rent arrears. Where that is the case and the landlord wishes to serve a section 8 notice the notice period is reduced to 4 weeks.

The prescribed form of notices has also been updated to reflect the change in the law and must be used.

Furthermore, the courts had stayed all possession claims i.e. put them on hold and were not dealing with them, for several months but they have now resumed dealing with them again from this week (week commencing 21 September 2020).

Commercial Property

In March 2020 we published an article explaining how a moratorium had been put in place to prevent the forfeiture of commercial leases for non-payment of sums due under the lease until 30 September 2020. The Government has now announced that the moratorium on forfeiture of commercial leases for non-payment of rent will be extended from 30 September to 31 December 2020.

Similarly, an amendment to related legislation prevented landlords from using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) unless a certain amount of rent was outstanding. This threshold has changed and will continue to change over the coming months. This threshold was originally at least 7 days’ rent. It then increased to 90 days’ rent in June 2020. This has now been increased to at least 276 days’ rent from 29 September 2020, and will increase again to 366 days’ rent from 25 December 2020. This restriction has also now extended to 31 December 2020.

[The Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agents (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020]

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