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Residential Tenancies in Wales – Notice Periods During The Pandemic

Landlords and their practitioners have endured a difficult year or so when faced with the prospect of removing residential tenants from properties, due to the seemingly ever-changing regulations implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In this article, we hope to assist by setting out the present position in Wales, in simple terms.

This guidance relates to eviction notices served at properties in Wales between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2021, upon tenants who reside in the property by way of an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ (the most common form of residential tenancy). Notice periods given on or after 24 July 2020 until 30 September 2021 must be at least 6 months, other than for grounds relating to anti-social behaviour. There have been two periods of time to consider—the current relevant period of time is relevant to eviction notices served between 29 September 2020 and 30 September 2021 when the following revised notice periods apply:

Section 21 (non-fault) notices:

A notice served on or after 24 July 2020 until at least 30 September 2021 must have given the tenant at least 6 months’ notice months’ notice to leave. The notice must be given in writing.

In a fixed term tenancy, a section 21 notice can be served at any time, but it cannot end before the end of the fixed term. In a periodic tenancy (so a tenancy where the fixed term has expired but the tenant remains in the property), notice can be given at any time, with the appropriate notice period given and the date specified in the notice as the date after which the tenant must leave the property, must be the last day of a period of the tenancy (for example, the last day of a month if the rent is paid monthly).

Section 8 notices (fault-based relying upon grounds for eviction):

  1. Proceedings can be issued immediately after notice is given where the ground 14 antisocial behaviour ground is relied on—unless the landlord also intends to rely on mandatory ground 7A (‘serious’ antisocial behaviour);
  2. Two weeks’ notice is required for the ‘domestic violence’ perpetrator ground 14A in (but only where no other ground is relied on, otherwise, notice for that other ground takes precedence);
  3. One month’s notice needs to be given where ground 7A is relied on and the tenancy is still within a fixed period. Where ground 7A is relied on, the notice period for this ground, be it periodic or fixed term, always takes precedence whether other notice grounds are included or not;
  4. In the case of a periodic assured tenancy where notice is given under ground 7A the notice period is the earliest date on which (apart from the security of tenure provisions) the tenancy could be brought to an end by a notice to quit.

It should be noted that after a notice has been served, and right up to the termination of the tenancy, the tenant remains liable to the landlord for the rent, and so tenants should continue to pay rent as normal.

From a practical perspective, you should liaise with the tenant as early as possible and establish whether they will have difficulties meeting their rental obligations. You could ask if they are receiving any support under a relevant government scheme.Consider temporary rental concessions such as reduced rent, but ensure that these are for a specified period and can be reviewed in the event of further statutory changes. Also, consider seeking a mortgage ‘holiday’ from your mortgage provider if you anticipate that your tenant’s failure to pay rent could make it difficult for you to pay your mortgage.

It should be noted that the Breathing Space scheme that was introduced in May 2021 may operate to invalidate a section 8 (fault-based) notice relying upon rent arrears, although it has no effect on the validity of a section 21 (non-fault) notice. Breathing Space is a scheme that was introduced to provide tenants in debt or suffering from mental health issues with protection from creditors such as landlords and letting agents, and involves tenant applying for ‘breathing space’ which if granted operates to protect the tenant from paying back any rent arrears during ‘breathing space’ period (although they will still be required to pay further rent when it becomes payable).

In Wales (like in England), legislation which restricted bailiff enforcement of evictions, has now been lifted. This was in place in Wales from 11 December 2020 until 30 June 2021. Therefore, possession orders can now be enforced where the landlord has a valid warrant of possession. However, bailiffs must provide 14 days’ notice of an eviction and should not to carry out an eviction if they are made aware that anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

Do you require legal assistance regarding a litigation matter? Contact Patrick on 01633 867 000 or via email Patrick.Howarth@rlo.law

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