Letting agents have welcomed the government’s decision not to extend the restrictions on evictions introduced 18 months ago at the beginning of the first national lockdown in England.
Ministers have confirmed that notice periods for both Section 21 and Section 8 notices will revert to two months from the current six months for most types of eviction from October 1st onwards.
Agent and landlords trade bodies, as well as many experts, have argued that keeping the extended notice periods for evictions would have put thousands of landlords under extreme financial pressure, particularly those seeking to evict tenants for extreme rent arrears or who wished to sell or move back into properties.
“While these measures were appropriate at the height of the pandemic, these restrictions could only ever be temporary,” a ministry of housing statement says.
“Returning notice periods to their pre-COVID lengths from 1 October will allow landlords to repossess their property where necessary. However, we intend to retain the power to implement these measures again in the case that the public health situation worsens and these measures are required again.”
Mark Hayward (pictured), Chief Policy Advisor at ARLA Propertymark, says: “Letting agents and landlords have worked hard to maintain tenancies throughout the pandemic, so it is pleasing that the government has kept to its word and given the sector ample warning prior to notice periods returning to pre-COVID lengths in England.
“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.”
But Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action (pictured) has warned that the announcement by the housing ministry means many landlords and agents will now hang back from issuing eviction notices until 1st October to take advantage of the shorter notice period, and that this could lead to a bottleneck with the already squeezed courts system.
“There has been a massive rise in the number of landlords telling us they want possession so that they can sell up, but how quickly the courts are able to deal with this is another matter,” he says.
Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of Safeagent, adds: “We feel that recognition should be given to the proven ability of landlords, tenants and agents who during the pandemic have worked together to maintain tenancies”