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Bailiff-led evictions on behalf of landlords who may have been waiting for more than a year to re-possess after significant rent arrears, anti-social behaviour or who just want to sell can restart after 1st June - unless the government decides to postpone the date again.

Even if the change goes ahead, Section 8 and section 21 evictions are unlikely to resume until mid-June at the earliest due to the landlords’ obligation to give a minimum of fourteen days' notice of enforcement except in the most extreme cases.

The main benefits for landlords and agents will be that the notice required to end tenancies will be reduced from six to four months even though that is still longer than the two months’ required at the start of the pandemic. The backlog that has built up means that further delays are inevitable.

The notice period required for cases with less than four months of unpaid rent fall to two months from 1 August 2021 with ‘normal’ service d​​​​​​​ue to​​​​​​​ resume from 1 October 2021.

The decision-making process has sometimes been market led particularly if landlords are unlikely to replace the tenant at a higher rent in th​​​​​​​e​​​​​​​ short​​​​​​​ term.​​​​​​​

Overall, I would say our landlords and tenants have shown remarkable flexibility, transparency and patience since the start of the pandemic.​​​​​​​

Of course there have been exceptions such as several property abandonments and some landlord intransigence with tenants in genuine need while still receiving close to market rent. However, the overwhelming majority of our landlords have shown a willingness to negotiate when tenants demonstrate evidence of hardship. 

For instance, we finally managed to obtain a 14 day possession order on behalf of our long Covid-suffering landlord in the local County Court yesterday after the tenant had run up a bill of £49,000 in the last nineteen months while still enjoying a lavish lifestyle and claiming unsubstantiated mental health problems.

At Court, lawyers in attendance for other cases told us they were unaware how many cases were pending or the size of the backlog but it’s clear there’s a considerable number in the queue with the worst examples gaining most publicity.

We have found there seems to be almost as many landlords seeking possession on the grounds of substantial rent arrears and anti-social behaviour to re-let as there are wanting to sell and take advantage of improved market conditions.

Some landlords want their cases moved from the County Court to the High Court despite a reluctance on the part of judges to make the change unless there’s strong supporting grounds to do so. In any event, we haven’t heard the move speeds up the process by much if at all.

The government might take this opportunity to make the mediation process, which is currently undergoing trials, more widely available which should help to reduce the amount of distress and very difficult cases which are emerging. At the same time, I hope they will also support those tenants in most severe difficulties as well as offer more clarity on section 21 no-fault evictions.

For advice on these and the other 150+ rules and regulations which impact the lettings and management sector, contact suitably qualified, knowledgeable and experienced agents, Jeremy Leaf & Co.