What is Section 21?

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 specifies the procedure for serving a notice to recover possession of a property that you have rented to tenants. It specifically relates to assured shorthold tenancy agreements, or the most common type of residential lease.

What is the Coronavirus Act 2020?

The Coronavirus Act 2020 was brought about in response to the Covid-19 disease outbreak in the United Kingdom. The act came into force (was made law) on 25 March 2020 and is referred to as the CVA 2020.

The act outlined in law grants powers to the government, specifically in response to the emergency caused by the coronavirus.

Under the new laws, there are provisions that deal with possession of a property under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. These are contained in the Coronavirus Act at Section 81.

What Are the Impacts of Section 81 of the Coronavirus Act 2020?

If you, as a landlord, have commenced proceedings under section 21 of the Housing Act before 26 March 2020, then it is still possible for you to pursue that claim. However, under the new civil procedure rule, particularly practice direction 51Z, any proceedings to recover possession are automatically stayed (paused) until 25 June 2020.

All possession orders are also stayed until 25 June 2020.

This means that a landlord could issue section 21 possession proceedings in the County Court, but those proceedings would be stayed (paused) until 25 June 2020. After this date it is expected that the stay will be lifted, and the proceedings would be allowed to resume. However, landlords should not expect that any section 21 proceedings would commence immediately after 25 June 2020, as there may be a backlog.

If you are a landlord that has not issued proceedings, you could still issue proceedings after the 90 day deadline set out in practice direction 51Z has expired.

When our landlord solicitors take enquiries and instructions from landlords that wish to issue possession proceedings, there are two points that we advise them to look out for.

The first is to remember that possession proceedings must be brought within 6 months of the date of service of the section 21 notice. This means that as a landlord, you will only have a relatively short period of time in which to issue proceedings after 25 June 2020 if you wish to rely on the section 21 notice that you served.

The second point to be mindful of, is that the government might extend the period set out in practice direction 51Z for more than 90 days. We might advise that a further section 21 notice is served as this might become necessary anyway.

If you are a landlord looking to recover possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, then our landlord solicitors in Brighton and Hove are happy to give an initial fixed rate consultation over the telephone or by video link. Call now on 01273 726951 or click here to navigate to our contact us page.