Good news for residential landlords: pre-pandemic notice periods are restored

Sydney Mitchell LLP

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, landlords have struggled to commence repossession proceedings against their tenants who have breached their assured short hold tenancy agreements (AST). This is due to the moratorium introduced by the Government on evicting residential tenants and the extended notice periods that were applied to Section 8 and Section 21 notices from 26 March 2020.

Finally, there is now some good news for landlords.

From 1 October 2021, the notice periods that are required to be given prior to seeking possession of residential properties in England will return to the pre-pandemic notice periods.

What are the notice periods?

The notice period in a Section 8 notice served on or after 1 October 2021 in relation to any AST is:

  1. Grounds 1, 2, 5, 7, 9 and 16: 2 months’ notice is required.
  2. Grounds 3, 4, 6, 7b, 8, 10,11,12,13, 14A and 17: 2 weeks’ notice is required.
  3. Ground 7a: 4 weeks (periodic tenancy) and 1 month (fixed term tenancy)
  4. Ground 14: None - proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice.

One of the biggest complaints by a landlord during the pandemic was a tenant had not paid rent. The advice that the landlord received as the pandemic went on changed and ranged from:

  • 26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020: the notice period was 3 months.
  • 29 August 2020 – 31 May 2021: the notice period was 6 months in most cases, except where there were already 6 months’ rent arrears, where 4 weeks’ notice was needed.
  • 1 June 2021 – 30 September 2021: the notice period was 4 months, except where 4 months’ rent arrears already existed and then 4 weeks’ notice was needed.

The extended notice periods made it difficult for a landlord to start repossession proceedings until 4 to 6 months’ rent arrears debt had accumulated.

As of the 1 October 2021, if a tenant is in rent arrears of two months or more, a landlord can now serve a Section 8 notice and only needs to give two weeks’ notice; the landlord can commence possession proceedings anytime thereafter.

It is an ideal time for a landlord to take stock in situations where monies are owed by tenants.

Similarly, from 1 October 2021, a Section 21 notice only needs to provide 2 months’ notice, to coincide with the expiry of the fixed term of the tenancy.

For any Section 21 notice served before 1 October 2021 the following notice period will still apply:

  • 29 August 2020 – 31 May 2021: The minimum notice period was 6 months.
  • 1 June 2021 – 30 September 2021: The minimum notice period was 4 months.

Landlords who elected not to serve Section 21 notices because of the extended notice periods can now take advantage of the pre-pandemic notice period.

What notices does it apply to?

The notice period applies to all Section 8 and Section 21 Notices.

Can the old notices be used?

A new prescribed Form 3 (Section 8) and Form 6a (Section 21) has been introduced and must be used on or after 1 October 2021, or a landlord runs the risk of serving a defective notice, which may result in any subsequent possession proceedings being dismissed with a costs order being made against them. Therefore, it is also important that the correct version is used.

It should be noted there are transitional arrangements in place for both a Section 8 and Section 21 notice, which means the change will not apply to notices served before 1 October 2021, in respect of these notices, the above time periods will apply depending upon when the notice was served.

If you are a landlord requiring advice and or assistance in trying to recovery your property assets, please email Sundeep Bilkhu,