The current restrictions imposed by the government to enforce social distancing, in an attempt to counteract the Coronavirus pandemic, will have serious and, possibly, drastic implications for all businesses. They will also affect the ability of residential tenants, homeowners and business owners to pay their rent and mortgages...
The Government has enacted the Coronavirus Act 2020 (the Act) to help alleviate some of these economic problems and to try and contain - and, hopefully, eventually eradicate - the pandemic that is sweeping through the country.
This is a brief overview as to how the Act will protect various people from eviction in the foreseeable future.
The government announced, on the 18 March 2020, a “complete ban on evictions” for renters in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Outside of the Act, the courts have announced that all ongoing possession proceedings are suspended from the 27 March 2020 for 90 days. This means that cases currently going through the Courts that are about to be listed will be suspended. A possession order against the tenant will not be obtainable for the next 90 days (at least), regardless of when the relevant Notice was served or when the proceedings were issued. This also applies to the enforcement of any possession order.
Under the Act, the Notice period is increased to three months for all tenancies with statutory protection, no matter what the period would usually have been. A Section 21 Notice will now be for three months rather than two and a Section 8 Notice (usually involving rent arrears or other breaches of the terms of the tenancy) will now be increased to three months from 14 days. These amended periods apply to Notices served between the 26 March 2020 until the 30 September 2020, although this may be extended.
The Act stops landlords of business tenancies exercising their right of re-entry or forfeiture for non-payment of rent by either commencing proceedings or re-entering the property. However, this only applies for non-payment of rent and not for any other breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement. This temporary restriction only stops a landlord from recovering possession of his premises. It does not stop him issuing proceedings for non-payment of rent. However, such proceedings will probably take a lot longer than normally due to the current lockdown.
During this crisis the Coronavirus Act protects all renters who are at risk of being evicted from their homes and businesses. However, this is only a temporary relief, as the Act does not provide for a rental holiday - and rent arrears that accrue will have to be repaid when everyone returns back to work.