The Coronavirus had a major effect on residential Landlord and Tenant matters especially possession claims. The government changed notice periods for Section 8 and Section 21 Notices and they did this at least 3 times over the Pandemic period. As you can imagine, this led to confusion amongst the industry.
For a notice to be valid, you had to make sure that the correct period of notice was given, for the time you were serving the notice.
On 1 October 2021, the notice periods returned back to pre-COVID periods.
In addition to the various timescales for notices under Section 8 and Section 21, the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 provides that any notice to quit given by a landlord must give at least 4 weeks notice.
I (Philip Nam) recently attended a possession claim, acting for a Landlord, in Dudley County Court. The claim was based on serious rent arrears (Ground 8, Schedule 2, Housing Act 1988). The Section 8 notice was served in November 2021 and gave the tenant 3 weeks notice. The correct notice is 2 weeks and so the Landlord and their Agent were entirely reasonable giving a longer a period. The claim for possession and judgment was successful but at the hearing, the Judge did query the time period for the notice. He specifically asked me to address him on the question as to why the notice was valid given what it says in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 – that notices must be 4 weeks.
There is a difference between a notice under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and a notice given under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, which we will explain below:
- Firstly, a notice given under the 1977 Act is a notice to quit the premises (end the tenancy). A notice given under the 1988 Act is not a notice to quit, but a notice that the landlord may seek a Court Order for possession on any of the grounds found in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988.
- Secondly, a notice given under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 sets out various timescales (under subsections 3A to 4B) depending on the grounds relied upon.
These submissions were made and the Judge agreed that the 1977 Act did not apply in this case.
It is important for a Landlord to ensure they receive legal advice and when it comes to a hearing, they instruct advocates who aware of the various laws surrounding notices. I can tell you this, if I had been asked this very same question back in 2015, when I started attending Court hearings as an advocate, I would probably not have known the answer….