Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has relaxed eviction rules for landlords in England. From October 1, 2021, the notice lengths switches back to two months.
Currently, landlords must give four months notice to tenants.
However, the secretary is covering his back by tabling emergency legislation that expires on March 25, 2022. The law allows him to set new notice times if the coronavirus pandemic worsens.
Assemblies in Scotland and Wales will set separate notice deadlines.
- 1 What are the notice to quit deadlines?
- 2 What’s the difference between an assured or shorthold tenancy?
- 3 What makes the rental agreement a licence?
- 4 Giving a tenant notice to quit
- 5 Which tenancy should landlords choose?
- 6 Do I need a written tenancy agreement?
- 7 How long is a standard tenancy?
- 8 Is there a model tenancy agreement?
- 9 What happens when a tenancy ends?
What are the notice to quit deadlines?
In England, between June 1 and September 30, 2021, landlords must provide tenants with four months’ notice to leave a rented home under section 21 Housing Act 1988.
From October 1, 2021, this drops back to two months’ notice, which was the pre-COVID deadline.
Section 8 notices have different deadlines. However, most involve severe rent arrears or bad behaviour by tenants.
The exact notice depends on the tenancy type and whether posssion is being sought because of a breach.
There will be brand new section 21 and 8 notices for use in England from 1 October by way of The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies and Notices) (Amendment and Suspension) (England) Regulations 2021.
There is little point giving any section 21 or 8 notices from this point onwards because it will be quicker to wait until 1 October and use the new notices.
Our possession wizard will be updated for the 1st where the new notices will be available for subscribers.
What’s the difference between an assured or shorthold tenancy?
The technical terms for the contracts – assured and shorthold – are similar but not interchangeable.
You have an assured or shorthold tenancy when:
- If you are a private landlord with a private tenant
- The agreement started on or after January 15, 1989
- A tenant has exclusive use of a rented property as their main home
If the tenancy is “assured” only, there is no right for the landlord to serve a section 21 notice ever. An “assured shorthold” (which is the most common type of tenancy) allows for a section 21 notice to be served.
What makes the rental agreement a licence?
The difference between an assured or shorthold tenancy and a licence depends on if a tenant has exclusive use of a property.
A shared house is an example. If a tenant has exclusive use of a bedroom and shares the rest of the home, they have an assured or shorthold tenancy.
But if the landlord shares “accommodation” with the occupier, the agreement will be a licence (usually referred to as an “excluded licence” because of it’s exclusion from parts of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977).
Giving a tenant notice to quit
Most buy to let tenancy agreements are shorthold tenancies.
Under a shorthold tenancy, you can serve a section 21 notice from 4 months after the tenancy starts.
Under an assured tenancy, the notice rules are different.
You must prove you have grounds for repossession as you have no automatic right to take the home back.
Which tenancy should landlords choose?
The decision depends on your business model.
If you believe you will want to repossess the home at some time, then a shorthold tenancy is probably best, as you have the right to ask the tenant to quit without giving reasons.
If you have a buy to let mortgage, the lender will likely stipulate a shorthold tenancy as they can easily remove the tenant and sell with vacant possession if they need to repossess.
It’s important to remember that if you have no written agreement, the tenancy is automatically shorthold if set up after February 28, 1997 – the date the 1996 Housing Act came into force.
Do I need a written tenancy agreement?
It’s worth having a written tenancy agreement for several reasons.
- By law, fixed tenancies of three years or more must have a written agreement
- A written agreement clearly outlining the terms of the tenancy is helpful if you have a dispute with the tenant
- Landlords cannot ask a court for accelerated possession without a written tenancy agreement, which means evicting a tenant takes longer and is more costly
How long is a standard tenancy?
The schedules for shorthold and assured tenancies are the same:
A fixed tenancy lasts for a specific time with a start date in the agreement. These are generally for six or 12 months, although the government and housing pressure groups, like Shelter and Generation Rent, are lobbying for agreements running for three years or more.
Many tenancy agreements (including the Guild’s) have a clause stating the contract lapses into a contractual periodic tenancy at the end of the fixed term. These tenancies start automatically and run from one rent period to the next indefinitely.
If the agreement has no contractual periodic tenancy clause and neither side has given notice by the end of the fixed term, a statutory periodic tenancy starts. This tenancy is a separate, new agreement that takes over the old contract but runs on the same terms.
Is there a model tenancy agreement?
Subscribers can download various tenancy types from our Tenancy Builder with integrated digital signing.
The Ministry of Housing has a model tenancy agreement online.
What happens when a tenancy ends?
Landlords and tenants have several options about what to do when an assured or shorthold tenancy ends.
- Sign a new fixed-term agreement
- Shift to a contractual periodic tenancy
- Do nothing and let the old tenancy run on under the same terms as a statutory periodic tenancy
- End the tenancy by giving the appropriate notice