The Coronavirus Act 2020: a tenancy update
The Coronavirus Act 2020 was introduced on 25th March 2020. It restricted the ability for both residential and business landlords to evict tenants.
Since the emergency legislation was introduced, the law has continued to move into uncharted territory, with further adaptions and extensions being introduced. So what is the current position for landlords?
The ‘relevant period’ provided by the Act has been extended to 30th September 2020.
The Act states that during the relevant period, a commercial landlord cannot:
- Take steps to forfeit a lease or exercise their right of re-entry due to a tenant’s failure to pay rent (service charges or insurance rent) between 26th March 2020 and 30th September 2020.
- Be granted a possession order by the Court within proceedings which were live before the relevant period.
- Rely on rent arrears (during the relevant period) as delayed payment if seeking possession on the basis of such arrears.
However, during the relevant period:
- Tenants still have to pay rent. A landlord will be able to forfeit a lease after the relevant period expires for any outstanding payment from the relevant period.
- Landlords can seek to recover the money owed by other available means, such as a guarantor or from a deposit.
- Landlords can forfeit the lease on any other breach by the tenant, according to the terms of the lease.
It is also important to note that:
- The provisions of the Act do not apply to commercial leases which are for less than six months.
- The requirements in respect of commercial premises apply to business tenancies only, resulting in protection for occupiers of commercial tenants who do not satisfy the requirements to be a business tenant.
The government has published a code of practice for commercial property relationships during the Covid-19. It is recommended that both landlords and tenants consider this code of practice when discussing future arrangements. However, the code is only voluntary.
The Coronavirus Act introduced an extension to the notice period when issuing a Section 8 or a Section 21 Notice. This remains until 30th September 2020. Accordingly, landlords have to provide three months’ notice.
The stay to all possession proceedings introduced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been extended until 23rd August 2020.
Therefore, whilst possession claims can still be issued, they are paused until 23rd August 2020
The stay does not apply to claims against trespassers.
How we can help
Whilst the law around landlord and tenant matters continues to develop at an unprecedented speed, our specialist property litigation lawyers remain vigilant to the changes that are being implemented, and are here to help should you have any queries.
Our solicitors advise landlords and letting agents in all areas of property law. Our expert property litigation team deals with both contentious and non-contentious areas of tenancy matters. To get in touch, call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.