Non statutory guidance for landlords in the private and social rented sectors on the measures relating to notices seeking possession modified by the Coronavirus Act 2020. The measures affect most residential possession processes, the chief processes being notices under:

  1. Section 21 Housing Act 1988 (Assured Shorthold Tenancies)
  2. Section 8 Housing Act 1988 (Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies)
  3. Section 83 Housing Act 1985 (Secure Tenancies)

The measures also affect notices in relation to less common forms of tenancy under the 1988 and 1985 Acts, and notices under the Rent Act 1977. This guidance does not address these less common forms of tenancy.

All landlords reading this guidance should also read our advice on possession proceedings during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The guidance in this document applies to England.

Possession proceedings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

We strongly advise landlords not to commence or continue possession proceedings during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so. It is essential that we work together during these unprecedented times to keep each other safe.

We have made regulations extending the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020, meaning that from 29 August 2020 landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings in most circumstances unless they have given their tenants six months’ notice. Shorter notice periods will apply to certain cases where the landlord wants to evict the tenant because of rent arrears of 6 months or more, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse or false statement. This guidance regarding longer notice periods applies during the national lockdown in England.

This guidance reflects the main modifications that the Coronavirus Act, as amended, makes to the notice requirements for a landlord seeking possession of their property under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 and sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988. It sets out how landlords should give notice under those provisions and the forms they should use. (See Section 81 and Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 as amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020).

Section 21 notices requiring possession of a property under an assured shorthold tenancy

Landlords can only use a Section 21 notice to ask their tenants to leave their property:

  • If the notice expires at or after the end of the fixed term.
  • During a tenancy with no fixed end date – known as a ‘periodic’ tenancy.

From 29 August 2020, a Section 21 notice must give tenants at least 6 months’ notice of the fact that the landlord requires possession. Where a landlord gives a tenant a valid Section 21 notice after 29 August 2020, the notice will now remain valid for an extended period:

  • 10 months from the date it is given to the tenant, where Section 21(4D) applies; or
  • 4 months from the date specified in the notice as the date after which possession is required, if Section 21(4E) applies.

A landlord cannot use a Section 21 notice if any of the following apply:

  • It is less than 4 months since the tenancy started.
  • The property is a house in multiple occupation and requires a licence under Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 S55 and that licence has not been obtained. Unless a temporary exemption applies, an application for a licence has been made and is still effective or the landlord has notified their local authority that they are seeking a temporary exemption and that notification is still effective. (This applies even if a licence application or notification could not be made due to COVID-19 outbreak).
  • The property is other residential accommodation and requires a licence under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 S79 and that licence has not been obtained. Unless a temporary exemption applies, an application for a licence has been made and is still effective or the landlord has notified their local authority that they are seeking a temporary exemption and that notification is still effective. (This applies even if a licence application or notification could not be made due to COVID-19 outbreak).
  • The tenancy was granted on or after 6 April 2007 or is a statutory periodic tenancy that arose on or after that date and the landlord has not complied with the relevant tenant deposit protection legislation.
  • The council has served an improvement notice or an emergency remedial notice in the last 6 months.
  • Guidance describes on measures that will protect tenants from eviction when they raise a complaint about the condition of their home.

For tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015, a landlord also cannot use a Section 21 notice if they have not given their tenants copies of:

Giving tenants a Section 21 notice

Landlords must use Form 6a if the tenancy was started or renewed after 30 September 2015.

Form 6a has been further amended to reflect the changes to possession procedures as a result of the new regulations. The amended form now makes it clear that for notices issued on or after 29 August 2020, tenants are entitled to at least 6 months’ notice before a landlord is able to apply to the court for a possession order.

If the tenants do not leave the property by the date specified on the form as the date after which possession is required, the landlord can apply to the court, within the period for which the notice remains valid, for a possession order using either the standard possession process or the accelerated possession process.

Section 8 notices seeking possession of a property under an assured or assured shorthold tenancy

To give tenants a Section 8 notice that the landlord intends to seek possession using a ground in schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988, a landlord must fill in Form 3 –  ‘Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy’.

Form 3 has been amended to reflect the changes to possession procedures made by the new regulations. The amended form now makes it clear that court proceedings cannot begin earlier than six months from the date the notice is served except in certain serious cases. These include those in relation to anti-social behaviour (including rioting), domestic abuse, false statement and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of at least six months’ rent. The Table below illustrates the notice periods now required for the different grounds.

Landlords need to specify in the notice the specific grounds they are using to seek possession of the property. The table below sets out the minimum notice a landlord needs to provide depending on which ground is being used.

If the case involves anti-social behaviour, and ground 14 or ground 7A is being relied upon, then the notice period for those grounds will apply even if other grounds are also being used.

Where the landlord relies on multiple grounds (but not ground 14 or ground 7A) the notice required will be the higher of the notice periods relevant to those grounds.

Where the landlord is seeking possession on grounds 1, 2, 5 to 7A, 9 or 16 (without ground 14) court proceedings also cannot begin before the date on which the tenancy (had it not been assured) could have been brought to an end by a notice to quit served at the same time as the notice. That is a period equivalent to the period of the tenancy, up to a maximum of 6 months.

The validity of Section 8 notices remains unchanged by the Coronavirus Act 2020. Section 8 notices continue to be valid for 12 months after they are served.

Landlords can apply to the court for a possession order if the tenants do not leave by the date specified in the form as the earliest date on which possession proceedings can be brought.

Minimum notice period lengths under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988

Legislation: Section 8, Housing Act 1988 / For grounds see Schedule 2 to the Act / Applicable to assured and assured shorthold tenancies

Users: Private sector and private registered providers of social housing

Ground Pre-coronavirus Act 2020 notice period: until 26 March 2020 Modified notice period: 26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020 Modified notice period: from 29 August 2020
Mandatory (judge must award possession if ground met)
1: Landlord wants to move in 2 months 3 months 6 months
2: Mortgage repossession 2 months 3 months 6 months
3: Out of season holiday let 2 weeks 3 months 6 months
4: Let to student by an educational institution 2 weeks 3 months 6 months
5: Property required for use by minister of religion 2 months 3 months 6 months
6: Demolition / redevelopment 2 weeks 3 months 6 months
7: Death of tenant 2 months 3 months 3 months
7a: Serious anti-social behaviour 4 weeks (periodic tenancy)

1 month (fixed term tenancy)

3 months 4 weeks (periodic tenancy)

1 month (fixed term tenancy)

7b: No right to rent in the UK 2 weeks 3 months 3 months
8: Serious rent arrears at time of service of notice and possession proceedings 2 weeks 3 months (a) 4 weeks where arrears are at least 6 months

(b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months

Ground Pre-coronavirus Act 2020 notice period: until 26 March 2020 Modified notice period: 26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020 Modified notice period: 29 August 2020 – 31 March 2021
Discretionary (judge can decide whether to award possession, if ground met)
9: Alternative accommodation available 2 months 3 months 6 months
10: Some rent arrears at the time of service of notice and possession proceedings 2 weeks 3 months (a) 4 weeks where arrears are at least 6 months

(b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months

11: Persistent late payment of rent 2 weeks 3 months (a) 4 weeks where arrears are at least 6 months

(b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months

12: Breach of tenancy agreement 2 weeks 3 months 6 months
13: Tenant deteriorated property 2 weeks 3 months 6 months
14: Nuisance/annoyance, illegal/immoral use of property None- proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice 3 months None – proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice
14A: Domestic abuse (social tenancies only – where victim has permanently left the property) 2 weeks 3 months 2 weeks
14ZA: Rioting 2 weeks 3 months 2 weeks
15: Tenant has deteriorated furniture 2 weeks 3 months 6 months
16: Employment 2 months 3 months 6 months
17: False statement 2 weeks 3 months 2 weeks

Notices under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 seeking possession of a property let under a secure tenancy

Part I – Secure Periodic Tenancies

To give tenants notice that the landlord intends to seek possession of a secure periodic tenancy, a landlord must fill in this form – ‘Part I Notice of Possession under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985’.

The form has been amended to reflect the changes to possession procedures following the new regulations under the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The amended form now makes it clear that court proceedings cannot begin earlier than six months from the date the notice is served except in certain serious cases. These include those in relation to anti-social behaviour (including rioting), domestic abuse, false statement and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of over 6 months’ rent. The table below sets out the minimum notice periods required for the different grounds.

Court proceedings also cannot begin before the date on which the tenancy (had it not been assured) could have been brought to an end by a notice to quit served at the same time as the notice. That is a period equivalent to the period of the tenancy, up to a maximum of 6 months.

Landlords need to specify in the notice the specific grounds they are using to seek possession of the property. The table below sets out how much notice a landlord needs to provide depending on which ground they use.

This includes where possession is being sought on Ground 2 of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1985. Where that is the case, the notice period associated with Ground 2 will apply even where any of the other grounds are also being used.

Where the landlord relies on multiple grounds (but not ground 2) the minimum notice required will be the higher of the notice periods relevant to those grounds.

Landlords can apply to the court for a possession order if the tenants do not leave by the specified date.

Part II – Secure Tenancies for A Fixed Term

To give tenants notice that the landlord intends to seek possession of a secure tenancy for a fixed term (that contains a provision which allows a landlord to bring it to an end before the fixed term expires), a landlord must fill in this form – ‘Part II Notice of Seeking Termination of Tenancy and Recovery of Possession under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985’

The form has been amended to reflect the changes to possession procedures following the new regulations under the Coronavirus Act 2020. The amended form now makes it clear that court proceedings cannot begin earlier than 6 months from the date the notice is served except in certain serious cases. These include those in relation to anti-social behaviour (including rioting), domestic abuse, false statement and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of over six months’ rent. The Table below illustrates the notice periods now required for the different grounds.

Landlords need to specify on the notice the specific grounds they are using to seek possession of the property. The table below sets out how much notice a landlord needs to provide depending on which ground they use.

Where the anti-social behaviour ground, ground 2 is being relied upon, the notice period associated with that ground will apply even where any of the other grounds are also being used.

Landlords can apply to the court for a possession order if the tenants do not leave by the specified date.

Minimum notice period lengths under Section 83 of the Housing Act 1985

Legislation: Section 83, Housing Act 1985 / For grounds see Schedule 2 to the Act / Applicable to secure tenancies

Users: Local authorities and where tenancy granted pre-1988 Act, private registered providers of social housing

Ground Pre-coronavirus act 2020 notice period: Until 26 march 2020 Modified notice period: 26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020 Modified notice period: from 29 August 2020
Where court considers reasonable
1: Rent arrears or breach of tenancy 4 weeks 3 months (a) 4 weeks where arrears are at least 6 months and no other ground is specified (apart from ground 2)

(b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months

2: Nuisance/annoyance, illegal/immoral use of property None – proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice 3 months None – proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice
2ZA: Rioting 4 weeks 3 months At least 4 weeks where no other ground is specified (apart from ground 2)
2A: Domestic abuse (social tenancies only – where victim has permanently left the property) 4 weeks 3 months At least 4 weeks where no other ground is specified (apart from ground 2)
3: Deterioration of property (tenant at fault) 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
4: Deterioration of furniture (tenant at fault) 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
5: False statement 4 weeks 3 months At least 4 weeks where no other ground is specified (apart from ground 2)
6: Assignment by mutual exchange for a premium 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
7: Tied accommodation and misconduct 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
8: Temporary home while works being carried out 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
Ground Pre-coronavirus act 2020 notice period: Until 26 march 2020 Modified notice period: 26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020 Modified notice period: 29 August 2020 – 31 March 2021
Where suitable alternative accommodation is available
9: Overcrowding 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
10: Demolition/redevelopment 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
10A: Regeneration 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
11: Charity and has not met objectives 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
Ground Pre-coronavirus act 2020 notice period: Until 26 march 2020 Modified notice period: 26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020 Modified notice period: 29 August 2020 – 31 March 2021
Where suitable alternative accommodation is available and court considers reasonable
12: Tied accommodation/employment 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
13: Accessible accommodation and tenant doesn’t require it 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
14: Housing association, accommodation for people who have difficulty in meeting specific housing needs and tenant no longer requires it 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
15: Housing for people with special needs, and tenant no longer requires it 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
15A: Succession, property too big (Only applies in England) 4 weeks 3 months 6 months
16: Succession, property too big (Only applies in Wales) 4 weeks 3 months 6 months

A note on making alterations to the prescribed forms

The wording in these forms has been carefully drafted to ensure that the person on whom it is served may understand what is being proposed and what they may do in response. Legislation requires you to use the prescribed form, or a form substantially to the same effect. Failure to serve the correct form may mean the Court will not grant a possession order. You should not alter the wording in these forms unless a form says you may do so. If you alter the wording, the form may be invalidated. You must also comply with any notice periods set out in the form.

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