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Some of our landlords have said they’re thinking about taking their properties back after the ban on bailiff-led evictions in England was lifted from 1st June and notice periods were reduced.

However, the process is not necessarily straightforward and there’s a lot to think about. For instance, Section 21 time limits generally fall from 6 to 4 months but if the rent was payable 6 monthly or annually then at least 6 months' notice is needed and court proceedings must start within 8 not 10 months.

Each ground for section 8 - often for rent arrears - has its own length of notice but a combination say, three typical grounds, can increase the time required depending on the amount of arrears.

If there's less than 4 months of rent outstanding on the date of service then 4 months' notice is correct but if serving after 1st August, 2 months is sufficient. The benefit increases as time progresses. From 1st August, rent arrears of less than 4 months reduces the notice from 4 months' to 2 months.

The flow chart below from the usually reliable 'Training For Professionals' lettings specialists should guide landlords and tenants through the different outcomes.

The Coronavirus Act did not change the application of ground 8 when at least 2 months of rent had to be 'lawfully due and unpaid'. Therefore, if the rent is due from 1st May and not paid  then due again on 1st June and still not paid,  the section 8 notice can be served on 2nd June seeking possession on ground 8 (and including probably grounds 10 and 11). However, because the total arrears amount to less than 4 months, notice will have to be 4 months. The best combination of grounds must be sought to offer the most advantageous notice. If, say a tenant owes two month's rent, grounds 8, 10 and 11 are appropriate but if the landlord also wants to move back into the property then ground 1 would be added. But the notice required may increase from 4 weeks to 4 months depending on the amount of rent outstanding. On the other hand, if the tenant owes two months rent and complaints about anti-social behaviour have been received from neighbours or the police then notice might reduce from 4 months to none at all!

Agents should be able to provide advice about the rules even if not serving notices on behalf of the landlord.

Jeremy Leaf & Co enjoy over thirty years' knowledge and experience in lettings so do please ask if we can help in this tricky area of the law where mistakes can prove very expensive!