Eviction notice periods in England have returned to their pre-pandemic length of two months.
Introduced in March 2020, extended notice periods are among the last COVID-19 emergency measures to be reversed – a big part of the private rented sector’s return to normality. Initially, bailiff enforcement of evictions was banned entirely (March to August 2020), following which extended notice periods were left in place for over a year.
The government has shared updated guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities reflecting the change.
Housing charities warn that the move comes at a dangerous time for tenants. According to Crisis, 100,000 renters could be at risk of falling into arrears once the £20 Universal Credit uplift is removed. Budgets will be squeezed further by rocketing energy costs and the end of furlough last week. A poll last month found that almost 250,000 tenants expect to be evicted.
The change applies to England only – Scotland and Wales still have extended notice periods in place. The Welsh government has confirmed that the notice period in Wales will remain at six months, except in cases of anti-social behaviour or domestic violence, until at least the end of the year. Tenants in Scotland must be given six months’ notice until at least April 2022.
However, the shorter notice periods does not necessarily mean landlords and agents will be able to recover properties more quickly in disputed cases. With courts severely backlogged, industry group Propertymark has repeatedly called on the government to set up a dedicated housing court in England and Wales – a call recently echoed by politicians in the Welsh parliament.
Scotland already has such a system in its First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber), which hears applications for eviction and other housing cases like right of entry and rent assessments. Meanwhile, Westminster is piloting a free mediation scheme for landlords and tenants to resolve issues without lengthy court hearings, but has not yet released the results.
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