The ban on bailiff-enforced evictions is now finally at an end and from today there is a change to the notice period for private tenants.
The government introduced the ban back at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and it has remained, in varying forms, until yesterday, with bailiffs asked not to carry out an eviction.
From today, eviction notice periods – previously extended to six months during much of the pandemic – will reduce to four months, and if the roadmap out of lockdown continues as planned, notice periods will return to just two months from October 1.
Housing minister Chris Pincher says: “As Covid restrictions are eased in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.”
Rental sector expert and market commentator Neil Cobbold – chief sales officer at automated rental payment service provider PayProp – suggests the change this week presents agents with a chance to show their value to landlord customers.
He says: “It is an opportunity to rethink the current eviction system in order to reduce backlogs and reach fair outcomes more quickly. We’ve already seen the government trialling a mediation service to solve landlord-tenant disputes before a full court hearing.
“If the trials are successful, this can become accepted practice and really help to lessen the number of disputes between the main parties involved in a rental transaction.”
He says in extreme circumstances – where severe rental arrears or anti-social behaviour are involved – legal action may remain a necessity but a reduction in disputes that can be settled outside of court will speed up the genuinely required law cases.
Cobbold adds that agents now have a key role, facilitating communication between landlords and tenants, finding acceptable solutions and keeping robust payment records to use in any disputes.
“No matter how successful mediation proves to be, a speedy and effective repossession system will always be necessary. The government has said that it will conduct a review of renters’ rights later this year with input from the industry, and the planned publication of its consultation into scrapping Section 21 evictions could also shed some light on its ideas for the future of repossession” he adds.
“Property professionals will hope that politicians take a balanced approach that respects the rights of everyone involved and provides timely access to justice.”
And finally the landlords’ trade body, the National Residential Landlords Association, has welcomed the changes but says financial help for disadvantaged tenants remains a priority.
“We want to see tenancies sustained wherever possible and call on the Chancellor to step in and provide affected tenants with the financial support they need to pay off rent arrears built as a result of the pandemic” explains NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.
This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.