Changes to notice periods in England from 1 October

The UK Government has confirmed to Propertymark that notice periods will return to their pre-COVID lengths.

Following the pandemic and the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020, the UK Government initially increased all notices to six months for most grounds (including Section 21 notices), with exemptions for certain serious cases. 

Since 1 June 2021 until 30 September 2021 notice periods must be at least four months in most circumstances apart from exemptions for the most serious cases. Notice periods for cases where there are less than four months of unpaid rent, reduced to two months’ notice from 1 August.

Moving forward, the UK Government intend to retain the power to implement any similar measures again in the future should the public health situation worsen. To this end, legislation has been tabled that retains the ability for the UK Government to reapply longer notice periods until 25 March 2022 as a backstop.

Additionally, they will update the landlord, tenant and local authority renting guidance and court guidance ahead of 1 October 2021 to reflect that notice periods will be reverting to their pre-COVID lengths. Plus, prescribed forms to reflect the return to pre-COVID lengths will be updated. 

Letting agents and landlords have worked hard to maintain tenancies throughout the pandemic, so it is pleasing that the UK Government has kept to its word and given the sector ample notice prior to notice periods returning to pre-COVID lengths in England from 1 October 2021.

Looking ahead there is still a hangover from the court suspension which means that some tenants have been able to rack up months of arrears with no action and some landlords have sold properties due to a busy sales market because of the Stamp Duty holiday. As future reforms are considered for the private rented sector, the UK Government must now reflect on the last 18 months and implement policies that support letting agents and landlords to continue to house the nation.
 

Mark Hayward Chief Policy Advisor | Propertymark