Published 17 September 2021

Catherine HuntAn important step towards post-Covid normality is about to happen for residential landlords, with the news that the notice periods they need to give to tenants to take back possession of their properties will revert to pre-pandemic lengths on 1st October.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 saw all notice periods increased to six months for most grounds (including Section 21 notices), with exemptions only for certain serious cases.  This was reduced to four months for most circumstances on 1st June 2021, with a further reduction to two months on 1st August where there was less than four months of unpaid rent.

But as from 1st October, all notice periods will revert to what they were before the pandemic, which means two months for Section 21 notices, and anything between two weeks and two months for Section 8 notices, depending on the circumstances (with factors such as serious rent arrears, persistent late payment of rent and no right to rent in the UK at the shorter end of things, and examples such as mortgage repossession and the landlord wanting to move in at the longer end).

There is a caveat to all of this: the government has tabled legislation that gives it the ability to reapply longer notice periods until 25th March 2022 as a backstop if a worsening Covid situation makes it necessary – part of the ‘Plan B’ Covid precautions announced earlier this week.

Landlords and lettings agents have worked hard to maintain tenancies and offer flexibility during the various lockdowns, when it was necessary that people were able to feel secure in their homes despite any financial problems which might have been caused by Covid.

But this could only ever be a temporary situation, and it is reassuring that the government has kept its word about returning notice periods to their pre-Covid lengths, which reflect a fair and balanced situation for both landlords and tenants.

This is important if landlords are going to be encouraged to stay in the sector and provide a decent supply of homes for rent, especially in the light of a busy sales market which has been further heated up by the stamp duty holiday.

The backlog of cases going through the court system seems to have eased somewhat, with judgements being obtained in around 12 weeks in our part of the country.

We are all hoping that the gradual return to normality as we emerge from the nightmare of the past 18 months will continue.

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