On 1 October, eviction suspensions and extended notice periods introduced to support tenants during the pandemic came to an end.
While many tenants have kept up with their payments or worked closely with their landlords on any rent issues, some simply could not afford to pay rent and a minority stopped paying rent knowing that their landlord could do little to evict them.
Some tenants will now be faced with the worry they could be evicted, and while it is important that residential landlords understand and be sympathetic to the impacts of the pandemic on tenants’ finances, the reality is that residential landlords have their own financial responsibilities and can face an escalating situation where they are without thousands of pounds of income.
It is, of course, in a tenant’s best interest to avoid going to court, where a landlord is likely to ask for a money judgment for the arrears and costs as well as an Order for Possession. While most tenants will endeavour to avoid this situation, as it could impact their ability to obtain a tenancy in future, there are occasions when this will not be possible.
There may now be a surge in eviction claims issued at court towards the end of this month, shortly before the Christmas period, as we return to two-week notice periods for Section 8 (specifically rent arrears) notices and two-month notice periods for Section 21 notices.
To try to avoid court proceedings, the most important thing is for landlords and tenants to work together to overcome issues amicably and follow government and National Residential Landlords Association guidance whenever possible.
Being proactive and taking steps such as agreeing repayment plans can also help, while in future landlords could consider steps such as insisting on guarantors when granting new tenancies.
Andrew Whitehead is a solicitor in the commercial litigation team at Stephensons Solicitors