The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent and came into force today. Section 81 and Schedule 29 are the parts which concern the law relating to Landlord and Tenants. The provisions apply from 26 March until 30 September 2020, but this may be extended by up to 6 months by the Government. The following information has been shared with us by our referencing and legal partner Let Alliance.
The Governments promise to renters stated that:
The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.
The Act extends the required notice period of a Notice to Quit to three months in respect of Rent Act 1977 by amendment of Section 5 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Whilst there is no direct mention, or applicability to the position relating to company let agreements the Act does provides similar protections in respect of Business Tenancies under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Our view is therefore that it is the clear intention of Parliament that all tenants should be given 3 months’ notice of the landlord’s intention to recover possession of premises. It is the function of the Court to interpret the legislation and in our view it would be the most logical interpretation that the period of notice required for Company letting agreements is also to be extended to 3 months’ notice.
If less than 3 months’ notice were given for a company let agreement, we consider there is a risk that the Court would deem the Notice to Quit invalid and the action for possession would fail. Meaning it would be likely that a new Notice to Quit would need to be served, providing 3 months’ notice and delaying the recovery of possession considerably.
It seems the Courts aren’t actively listing cases and may have been advised not to make possession orders just yet but there is currently no changes in law which alter the position of the Court when faced with an application for possession which satisfies the requirements for possession on mandatory grounds. If an accelerated application is issued for instance, and dealt with by the Court on the papers, there is nothing at present to suggest that the Court is precluded from making a mandatory order for possession.
In light of criticism it has received, the Government may introduce further amendments to the Act, or introduce subsequent changes to legislation which seeks to further deliver on the promises made and therefore the practical implication as it currently stands may change.
As you will appreciate, guidance on likely or predicted changes is difficult and we wish to remind you that we are still in fast moving and unprecedented times but we shall provide further updates as and when appropriate.
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