Covid-19: UK Update

The coronavirus is an unprecedented worldwide catastrophe with vast and potentially devastating effects on all of us. It is a challenging time, and primarily we would like to express our sincere camaraderie with you and to all people suffering from the effects of the coronavirus, from which the expected consequences are unprecedented and unfortunately potentially dire for the foreseeable future. We understand the landscape is changing fast, and everyone is feeling very insecure right now.

UK Lockdown: 23rd March 2020

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a coronavirus, which is a type of virus that usually causes fever, tiredness, and a cough, and can also cause breathing problems. Studies suggest the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.

Transmission within the UK was first documented on 28th February 2020. By the 1st March, there were cases in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. On the 23rd March, the government imposed a lockdown on the whole population, banning all “non-essential” travel and contact with people outside one’s home (including family and partners), and shutting almost all businesses, venues, facilities, amenities and places of worship. People were told to keep apart in public, and Police have been empowered to enforce the lockdown and where the Coronavirus Act 2020 provides the government with emergency powers not used since the Second World War. It is forecasted a lengthy lockdown will severely damage the UK economy and lead to millions of job losses, worsening mental health, and cause “collateral” deaths due to isolation and falling living standards.

By 6th May 2020, the UK had become the country worst hit by COVID-19 in Europe. Where the disease had killed 29,427 people in the UK. On the 7th May, the Bank of England (BoE) forecasted the coronavirus crisis would push the UK economy into a historically massive recession, with output dropping 30% in the first half of the year. The BoE warned Britain’s banks the contraction would be even deeper with bank losses potentially greater if they refused to lend to companies and forced them into bankruptcy. The BoE went further to state that even with the government’s job retention scheme protecting many employees from being laid off, the UK’s unemployment rate was likely to rise to 9%. Translating to a higher rate of joblessness than after the 2008/09 financial crisis.


UK Lockdown: 13th May 2020 – update for England

Despite the UK being the leading European country for COVID-19 deaths, Boris Johnson has announced that from today some of the lockdown restrictions for people in England are being eased. These freedoms do not apply to citizens in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales,

Here are the 11 things you can now do in England from today subject to you not showing any coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild –

1. Exercise more than once per day

“From this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise,” Boris Johnson announced.

2. Sit in a public place such as a park or a beach – 2 metres from others

You no longer have to keep moving all the time in parks and other public places. For example from today you can sit, sunbathe or picnic with members of your household on a beach or in a park. The condition is that you must be at least 2 metres from people outside your own household.

3.  Make use of other social and business activities

From today you can visit garden centres, golf courses and tennis courts.

4. Drive to other places for outdoor activity

With the exception of driving to Wales or Scotland, from today there is no limit on how far you can travel in England to an outdoor space of your choice with the proviso that social distancing rules are respected once you’re there. You are not permitted to come within two metres of anyone who is not from your household. You can now visit the countryside, the seaside or go on a day-trip with members of your household.

5. Meet one friend or relative in the park

From today you may sit with someone from another household in public on condition there are a maximum of two people (one from each household) and you stay 2 metres apart. This rule cannot be relaxed to host a large spread-out party in the park with your friends.

6.  Play golf, tennis and basketball

You can play tennis, basketball or golf with members of your own household or with one person from another household as long as you stay two meters apart and don’t share equipment.

7.   Water sports and angling

Whilst indoor or outdoor public pools and gyms remain closed, you are permitted to go fishing or take swims in lakes and the sea with members of your own household or with the standard two metre distance with members from other households.

8. Go back to work – if you can’t work from home

Boris Johnson announced: “Anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work… work from   home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.” This easing has been supported with new guidance for firms to ensure workplaces are safe for their employees and where staff have the responsibility to raise any safety issues directly with their employers.

9. Personal training in the park

A personal trainer can have a session in a park with one client at a time on the basis you are allowed to see one person from another household in the park, as long as you’re both two metres away.

10. Help a vulnerable person

You can go out to care for or help a vulnerable person, or provide other voluntary or charitable services with the guidance that wherever possible you should stay at least two metres away from others and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser if soap and water is not available.

11. View a flat or home

From today it is legal to carry out home viewings, make house moves and take trips to letting or estate agents with the proviso that wherever possible you stay at least two metres away from others and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser if soap and water is not available.


UK Lockdown: 25th June 2020 – all the updates as to new measures

The Prime Minister announced a series of new measures to take effect from 4 July 2020 to ease the lockdown in England.

1. Distancing guidelines

From 4 July the 2m (6ft) social distancing guidance will change in England where if it is not possible for people to stay 2m apart, they should keep a distance of “one metre plus”. This means staying one metre apart, while observing precautions to reduce the risk of transmission.

Businesses are being asked to help by:

    • avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts
    • reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces
    • improving ventilation
    • using protective screens and face coverings
    • closing non-essential social spaces
    • providing hand sanitiser
    • changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams

Northern Ireland has also announced it will reduce the distancing rule to 1m with restrictions. In Scotland and Wales, the 2m distancing rule remains in place for the time being and the five-mile travel limit is set to be lifted from 3 July, with more rules now expected to be eased later in the month.

2. Hospitality

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said he expected people to use “common sense”. But he added there was a “legal duty” for businesses to keep employees safe.

  • Restaurants, pubs and cafes in England will also be allowed to reopen, providing they follow safety guidelines. All hospitality indoors will be table service only, and contact between staff and customers will be limited. Customers will also have to give contact details when they enter a pub or restaurant.

Businesses will be expected to monitor crowd density in their premises, including at pinch points – such as doorways.

  • Holiday accommodation including hotels, B&Bs, cottages, campsites and caravan parks can also reopen. People in England will be free to stay away from home overnight but shared facilities such as campsite toilets must be cleaned properly.

Northern Ireland has confirmed holiday accommodation can reopen for business from 26 June and pubs and restaurants can open on 3 July. Decisions on hospitality and holidays in Wales are expected in early July. In Scotland, it is anticipated that from 15 July all holiday accommodation may open up, along with indoor areas of pubs and restaurants and hairdressers and barbers. Beer gardens should be able to reopen from 6 July. Shopping centres and dental practices in Scotland could fully re-open from 13 July.

3. Meeting other households

In England, two households of any size will be able to meet indoors or outside. It will be possible to stay overnight. This does not have to be the same set of households. The two households would have to maintain social distancing, unless they were part of the same support bubble. However, the government does not recommend meetings of multiple households indoors because of the risk of infection.

Outdoors, people from multiple households can meet in groups of up to six but two households can meet regardless of size.

From 6 July, people who are clinically vulnerable and “shielding” will be able to gather in groups of up to six people outdoors, including individuals outside of their household and form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household.

In Northern Ireland, groups of up to six people not in the same household can now meet indoors while socially distancing. In Wales, any number of people from two different households can now meet outdoors – but meetings indoors are still not allowed. In Scotland, people should be able to meet indoors with two other households from 10 July.

4. What else will reopen in England?

More outdoor spaces will open if they can do so safely, including outdoor gyms and children’s playgrounds

Hairdressers will be able to reopen, as long as they take precautions. Other close-contact services such as nail bars will not yet open, but the prime minister said they would be able to open “as soon as we’re confident they can operate safely”

Libraries, community centres, bingo halls, cinemas, museums and galleries will be able to open, along with funfairs and theme parks, amusement arcades, outdoor skating rinks, social clubs and model villages

Places of worship will be able to open for prayers and services, including weddings with up to 30 guests – subject to social distancing. Singing will not be permitted

5. What will remain closed in England?

Nightclubs and casinos remain closed, along with bowling alleys, spas, swimming pools, indoor gyms and soft play centres

Theatres and concert halls will not be able to host live performances – but the prime minister said the government would work with the arts industry on specific guidance to enable choirs, orchestras and theatres to resume live events as soon as possible.


COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme: Effective 1st March 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was introduced to mitigate the predicted economic downturn as a consequence of the Coronavirus crisis. The scheme will allow all UK employers with employees on a PAYE scheme to elect those employees as ‘furloughed workers.’ The employer will have access to government support to continue paying part of these furloughed employees’ salaries and protect the employees from redundancy. The term ‘furlough’ generally means a temporary leave of absence from work. This can be due to economic conditions affecting a company, or matters affecting the whole country.

Furlough leave has been provisionally introduced by the government to offer employers an option to keep personnel on the payroll without them working. The ability to furlough employees is intended to support employers who are harshly affected by the coronavirus.

Are all employers eligible?

Any employer who operated a UK bank account and commenced paying their workers through PAYE prior to the 19th March 2020 is eligible for the scheme. This includes all types of businesses, public establishments, and charities. Where a company is placed into administration, then the administrator will be able to access the scheme. Non-public sector employers in receipt of public funding for staff costs are expected not to furlough their staff and to continue paying them.

An employee can agree to be furloughed when they are working for businesses that have been severely affected by the coronavirus. The employee must be on the employer’s PAYE payroll as of the 19th March 2020. Employees include full-time employees, part-time employees, agency employees on agency contracts on condition they are not conducting any work at all, and zero-hour workers if they are employees on flexible contracts. Workers on sick leave can be placed on furlough leave after the period of sick leave has ended when there is no work for them to do, and the employer’s business is severely affected by the coronavirus. Employees who are protecting themselves in line with government advice and lockdown can also be placed on furlough leave.


Furlough Scheme: Update 12th May 2020

Yesterday the Chancellor announced the furlough scheme is to be extended for four months until 31 October. The scheme will be available for all employers in all sectors and until the end of July there will be no changes to the current scheme. However from August to October the government will reduce the amount of money it pays to firms with an effort to get employees back in the workplace. This is because employers will be asked to “share” the cost of keeping furloughed workers on the payroll. It is likely furloughed workers will be asked to come back part-time for a set number of days a week from August. The number of days would vary by sector, business and individual and this return to work is likely to affect the amount to be paid by the state.

Presently the government pays firms 80% of an employee’s wage up to £2,500 a month. From 1st August this will be reduced, but the government has not yet confirmed the expected size of this decrease. Full details will be announced by the end of May. The Chancellor says despite the cut in government cash, you should keep getting up to 80% of your wage from August to October.


Furlough Scheme: Update 10th June 2020

The government has announced –

  • The current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until 31st October.
  • As from the 1st July, furloughed employees will be able to work part-time whilst still remaining furloughed while employers will be responsible for paying their employees’ wages for periods that they have worked. The government has confirmed it will continue to make furlough payments for any part of the normal hours that a furloughed employee has not worked.
  • The scheme will be closed to new applicants from the 30th June. From the 1st July employers will only be able to claim for employees who have been furloughed for a minimum period of three weeks prior to 30th June. To be eligible for the flexible furloughing scheme, an employee not previously furloughed, needs to be placed on furlough from the 10th June at the latest and remain furloughed for 3 weeks until 30th June.
  • There will be a gradual tapering of the payments made by the government for periods when employees are not required to work under the furlough scheme.
  • From the 1st July, to facilitate the introduction of the part time furloughing scheme and to assist employees already furloughed back to work; employers will be able to agree any part-time working arrangements with previously furloughed employees, where employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours that an employee would be expected to work in a claim period, along with the actual hours worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week, to enable grants to be calculated accurately across working patterns.
  • For June and July, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance and pension contributions.
  • For August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions,
  • For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500,
  • For October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.

COVID-19 Primary Schools England: Effective 1st June 2020

Millions of primary school pupils in England will return to school from the 1st of June 2020 under new government plans to ease the lockdown. Secondary school pupils are not expected back until September, apart from some contact for years 10 and 12.

We establish the following government guidance to the reopening of primary schools.

1.  Class sizes reduced to 15 pupils in each room

Smaller class sizes will allow desks to be put “as far apart as possible”. If there aren’t enough teachers, teaching assistants will take classes. Class groups must be kept “consistent”, with pupils in one group not mixing with friends in another group to minimising the size of any outbreak.

If one child gets Covid-19, then the whole class and teacher will have to go home to self-isolate for 2 weeks.

2.  Teachers to wear masks to deal with sick kids

Guidance states that most of the time staff and children will not need to wear face coverings or masks. Teachers will need to wear a PPE mask if they’re caring for a child who has fallen ill at school. Teachers are advised to keep to the two metre distance requirement and to wear protective kit if this isn’t possible. Guidance confirms: “If contact with the child or young person is necessary, then gloves, an apron and a face mask should be worn by the supervising adult…If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.”

Sick children waiting to be picked up should be moved to an isolated room behind a closed door with window ventilation. If they need the toilet, they should use a separate bathroom to everyone else which is then cleaned afterwards using standard products.

3. Soft furnishings to be removed

Guidance advises that nurseries and schools should remove soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean and this includes items with intricate parts.

4. One way system corridors

Guidance states: “Schools should consider introducing one-way circulation, or placing a divider down the middle of the corridor, to keep young people apart.”

5. Staggered breaks and new drop-off and pick-up times

Guidelines advise schools to stagger lunch and break times, as well as drop-off and pick-up times to reduce the number of pupils moving around and coming into contact with each other.

6. Avoid public transport

Parents and children are being urged to avoid public transport if at all possible. Instead  children and parents are being encouraged to walk or cycle where possible.

7.  Your child can’t see some friends from his normal class

With classes being halved into groups of 15 to limit the spread of the virus, these smaller groups will be kept from mixing with the other pupils from the other class group during the day.

8. They may have to be shifted to another school

Guidance highlights that some schools will not be able to achieve half-sized classes due to a lack of space. In this instance some children may have to attend another nearby school.


Landlord & Tenant: Coronavirus Act 2020

SCHEDULE 29: Residential tenancies in England and Wales: protection from eviction

Interpretation

1.(1)In this Schedule “the relevant period” means the period—

(a)beginning with the day after the day on which this Act is passed, and

(b)ending with 30 September 2020.

(2) The relevant national authority may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend sub-paragraph (1)(b) to specify a later date than the date for the time being specified there.

(3) In this Schedule “relevant national authority” means—

(a)in relation to England, the Secretary of State, and

(b)in relation to Wales, the Welsh Ministers.

Rent Act 1977: protected tenancies and statutory tenancies

2.(1)Section 5(1) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (validity of notices to quit) is to be read, in relation to Rent Act notices to quit given by the landlord during the relevant period, as if the reference to 4 weeks were a reference to 3 months.

(2)In sub-paragraph (1) “Rent Act notice to quit” means a notice to quit relating to a tenancy that is a protected tenancy for the purposes of the Rent Act 1977 (see section 1 of that Act).

(3)Section 3 of the Rent Act 1977 (terms and conditions of statutory tenancies) is to be read as if after subsection (4) there were inserted—

“(4A)Proceedings for an order for a landlord to obtain possession of a dwelling-house as against a statutory tenant may not be commenced during the relevant period (see paragraph 1(1) and (2) of Schedule 29 to the Coronavirus Act 2020) unless—

(a)the landlord has given the statutory tenant a notice of intention to commence possession proceedings;

(b)the notice period is a period of at least three months; and

(c)the proceedings are commenced on or after the intended date for commencing proceedings.

(4B)But the proceedings may be commenced without compliance with subsection (4A) if the court considers it just and equitable to dispense with the requirement to comply.

(4C)For the purposes of this section a “notice of intention to commence possession proceedings”, in relation to a dwelling house and a statutory tenant, is a notice that—

(a)is in writing;

(b)describes the statutory tenancy;

(c)states—

(i)the address of the dwelling-house,

(ii)the name of the statutory tenant, and

(iii)the name and address of the landlord;

(d)states that the landlord intends to commence proceedings to obtain possession of the dwelling-house as against the statutory tenant;

(e)states—

(i)the ground or grounds on which the landlord intends to seek possession of the dwelling-house, and

(ii)the reason or reasons why the landlord believes the ground or grounds to be applicable;

(f)states the date on or after which the landlord intends to commence the possession proceedings;

(g)explains that the landlord is prohibited from commencing those proceedings in reliance on the notice—

(i)unless that date falls at least three months after the date on which the notice is given, and

(ii)until that date.

(4D)A notice of intention to commence possession proceedings may be given by leaving it at, or sending it by post to, the dwelling-house to which it relates.

(4E)Where subsection (4A) applies and possession proceedings are commenced in reliance on a notice of intention to commence possession proceedings, the court must not make an order for the landlord to obtain possession of the dwelling-house as against the statutory tenant on a particular ground mentioned in Schedule 15 or 16 to this Act unless—

(a)the notice states the ground and one or more reasons why the landlord believes that the ground is applicable, or

(b)the court gives permission for the ground to be raised in the proceedings.

(4F)In this section, in relation to a notice of intention to commence possession proceedings—

“intended date for commencing proceedings” means the date stated in accordance with subsection (4C)(f);

“notice period” means the period that—

    (a) begins with the date on which the notice is given, and

    (b) ends with the intended date for commencing proceedings.”

Secure tenancies

3. Section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 (proceedings for possession etc. of a dwelling-house let under a secure tenancy: general notice requirements) is to be read, in relation to notices served under that section during the relevant period, as if—

(a)subsection (3) were omitted,

(b)in subsection (4) for the words from the beginning to “specified in the notice,” there were substituted “If the proceedings are for an order for the possession of a dwelling-house,”,

(c)after subsection (4A) there were inserted—

“(4B)The date specified in accordance with subsection (4)—

(a)must not be earlier than three months after the date of service of the notice, and

(b)in a case where the tenancy is a periodic tenancy, must also not be earlier than the date on which the tenancy could, apart from this Part, be brought to an end by notice to quit given by the landlord on the same date as the notice under this section.”,

(d)in subsection (5) for “subsection (3), (4) or (4A)” there were substituted “subsection (4A)”, and

(e)in subsection (6) for “subsections (3) to (5)” there were substituted “subsections (4B)(b) and (5)”.

4. Section 83ZA of the Housing Act 1985

(notice requirements in relation to proceedings for possession on absolute ground for anti-social behaviour) is to be read, in relation to notices served under that section during the relevant period, as if—

(a)for subsection (10) there were substituted—

“(10)The date specified in accordance with subsection (9)(a)—

(a)must not be earlier than three months after the date of the service of the notice, and

(b)in a case where the tenancy is a periodic tenancy, must also not be earlier than the date on which the tenancy could, apart from this Part, be brought to an end by notice to quit given by the landlord on the same day as the notice under this section.”, and

(b)in subsection (11) for “subsection (10)(a)” there were substituted “subsection (10)(b)”.

Flexible tenancies

5. Section 107D of the Housing Act 1985

(recovery of possession on expiry of flexible tenancy) is to be read, in relation to notices given under subsection (4) of that section during the relevant period, as if for “two months’ notice” in that subsection there were substituted “three months’ notice”.

Assured tenancies

6. Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988

(notice of proceedings for possession: assured tenancies) is to be read, in relation to notices served under that section during the relevant period, as if—

(a)in subsection (3A)—

(i)in paragraph (a), for “periodic tenancy,” there were substituted “periodic tenancy—

“(i)three months after the date on which the notice was served, and

(ii)”, and

(ii)in paragraph (b) for “one month” there were substituted “three months”,

(b)in subsection (4) after “earlier than” there were inserted “three months after”,

(c)in subsection (4A)(a) for “two months” there were substituted “three months”, and

(d)in subsection (4B) for “two weeks” there were substituted “three months”.

Assured shorthold tenancies

7. Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988

(recovery of possession on expiry or termination of assured shorthold tenancy) is to be read, in relation to notices given under subsection (1) or (4) of that section during the relevant period, as if—

(a)in subsection (1)(b) for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”,

(b)in subsection (4)(a) for “two months” there were substituted “three months”, and

(c)in subsection (4E)(b) for “two months” there were substituted “three months”.

Introductory tenancies

8. Section 128 of the Housing Act 1996

(notice of proceedings for possession of a dwelling-house let under an introductory tenancy) is to be read, in relation to notices served under that section during the relevant period, as if—

(a)in subsection (4) the second sentence were omitted, and

(b)after subsection (4) there were inserted—

“(4A)The date specified in accordance with subsection (4)—

(a)must not be earlier than the end of the period of three months beginning with the date on which the notice of proceedings is served, and

(b)must not be earlier than the date on which the tenancy could, apart from this Chapter, be brought to an end by notice to quit given by the landlord on the same date as the notice of proceedings.”

Demoted tenancies

9. Section 143E of the Housing Act 1996

(notice of proceedings for possession of a dwelling-house let under a demoted tenancy) is to be read, in relation to notices served under that section during the relevant period, as if for subsection (3) there were substituted—

“(3)The date specified under subsection (2)(c)—

(a)must not be earlier than the end of the period of three months beginning with the date on which the notice of proceedings is served, and

(b)must not be earlier than the date on which the tenancy could (apart from this Chapter) be brought to an end by notice to quit given by the landlord on the same date as the notice of proceedings.”

Consequential modifications in relation to prescribed forms

10(1)Part 1 of the Schedule to the Secure Tenancies (Notices) Regulations 1987 (S.I. 1987/755)

(notice of seeking possession) is to be read, in relation to notices served under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 during the relevant period, as if—

(a)in the first paragraph 5—

(i)the words “Cross out this paragraph if possession is being sought on Ground 2 of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1985 (whether or not possession is also sought on another Ground)” were omitted,

(ii)in the first bullet point, for the words from “the date when” to the end there were substituted “three months from the date this Notice is served and also cannot be earlier than the date on which your tenancy or licence could be brought to an end by notice to quit given by the landlord on the same date as this Notice”, and

(iii)in the second bullet point, for “this date” there were substituted “the date in this paragraph”, and

(b)the second paragraph 5 were omitted.

(2)Part 2 of the Schedule to the Secure Tenancies (Notices) Regulations 1987 (S.I. 1987/755) (notice of seeking termination of tenancy and recovery of possession) is to be read, in relation to notices served under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 during the relevant period, as if after paragraph 4 there were inserted—

11. The Schedule to the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) Regulations 1997 (S.I. 1997/194)

(which applies in relation to Wales) is to be read, in relation to notices served under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 during the relevant period, as if in Form 3 (notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy), in paragraph 5 (earliest date on which court proceedings can be brought)—

(a)in the first bullet point, for “2 months” there were substituted “3 months”,

(b)in the second bullet point—

(i)for “2 weeks” there were substituted “3 months”, and

(ii)for “two months” there were substituted “three months”, and

(c)in the third bullet point, for the words “before the date this notice is served” there were substituted “earlier than 3 months from the date on which this notice is served”.

12. (1) The Schedule to the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 2015/620)

is to be read, in relation to notices served under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 during the relevant period, as if in Form 3 (notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy), in the notes to paragraph 5 (notes on the earliest date on which court proceedings can be brought)—

(a)in the first bullet point, for “2 months” there were substituted “3 months”,

(b)in the second bullet point—

(i)for “2 weeks” there were substituted “3 months”, and

(ii)for “two months” there were substituted “three months”,

(c)in the third bullet point, for “1 month” there were substituted “3 months”, and

(d)in the fourth bullet point, for the words “before the date this notice is served” there were substituted “earlier than 3 months from the date on which this notice is served”.

(2)The Schedule to the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 2015/620) is to be read, in relation to notices given under section 21(1) or (4) of the Housing Act 1988 during the relevant period, as if in Form 6A (notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy)—

(a)in the section headed “What to do if this notice is served on you”, in the second paragraph—

(i)for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”, and

(ii)the words “if you pay rent quarterly, you must be given at least three months’ notice, or,” were omitted, and

(b)in paragraph 3, for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”.

Power to alter three month notice periods

13(1)The relevant national authority may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend this Schedule—

(a)to alter a reference to three months in this Schedule into—

(i)a reference to six months, or

(ii)a reference to any other specified period which is less than six months, or

(b)to alter a reference which has been altered by virtue of paragraph (a) or this paragraph (but not so as to result in the reference being to a specified period of more than six months).

(2)Sub-paragraph (1) applies to references in this Schedule whether or not they are contained in text which is to be treated as if inserted or substituted into another enactment.

Regulations under this Schedule

14(1)Any power to make regulations under this Schedule—

(a)may be exercised more than once,

(b)may be exercised so as to make different provision for different purposes or different areas, and

(c)includes power to make supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision (including provision modifying enactments or amending this Schedule).

(2)A statutory instrument containing regulations of the Secretary of State under paragraph 1 or 13 is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

(3)A statutory instrument containing regulations of the Welsh Ministers under paragraph 1 or 13 is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the National Assembly for Wales.

Consequential modifications in relation to prescribed forms

15(1)The Schedule to the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 2015/620)

is to be read, in relation to notices served under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 during the relevant period, as if in Form 3 (notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy), in the notes to paragraph 5 (notes on the earliest date on which court proceedings can be brought)—

(a)in the first bullet point, for “2 months” there were substituted “3 months”,

(b)in the second bullet point—

(i)for “2 weeks” there were substituted “3 months”, and

(ii)for “two months” there were substituted “three months”,

(c)in the third bullet point, for “1 month” there were substituted “3 months”, and

(d)in the fourth bullet point, for the words “before the date this notice is served” there were substituted “earlier than 3 months from the date on which this notice is served”.

(2)The Schedule to the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 2015/620) is to be read, in relation to notices given under section 21(1) or (4) of the Housing Act 1988 during the relevant period, as if in Form 6A (notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy)—

(a)in the section headed “What to do if this notice is served on you”, in the second paragraph—

(i)for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”, and

(ii)the words “if you pay rent quarterly, you must be given at least three months’ notice, or,” were omitted, and

(b)in paragraph 3, for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”.


Landlord & Tenant: Our advice on the Act

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (the Act) was enacted on 25th March 2020 and is a Bill to make provision in connection with coronavirus and for connected purposes.

Schedule 29 to the Act applies to the private residential sector. It confirms –

1. The notice period for possession claims under the Housing Act 1988, for both fault (section 8) and non-fault (section 21) grounds, has been extended to three months. A three-month period also now applies under the Housing Act 1985 to secure tenancies.

2.When a landlord needs to serve a notice to quit to end the protected phase of a Rent Act 1977 tenancy, the requisite notice period is now three months whereas it was previously four weeks under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977).

3. A claim against a Rent Act tenant also needs to be preceded by a notice of intention to seek possession. The Rent Act 1977 confirms Rent Act tenants will be known as protected tenants if they are occupying within a fixed or periodic term, or statutory tenants if they are in occupation following termination of the fixed or periodic term.

  • Notices to quit proceedings for possession of protected tenancies under the Rent Act 1977 must give at least three months’ notice (achieved by way of providing that section 5(1) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (validity of notices to quit) is to be read, in relation to Rent Act notices to quit given by the landlord during the relevant period, as if the reference to four weeks were a reference to three months)
  • notices of intention to commence proceedings for possession of statutory tenancies must be provided under section 3 of the RA 1977, and they must give at least three months’ notice
  • notices of proceedings seeking possession, or termination and possession of secure tenancies under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 must not specify a date for possession proceedings earlier than three months from the date of the notice
  • notices seeking possession of flexible tenancies under section 107D of the Housing Act 1985 must give three months’ notice
  • notices of proceedings for possession of assured tenancies under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (HA 1988) must not specify a date for possession proceedings earlier than three months from the date of the notice
  • notices seeking possession of assured shorthold tenancies under section 21 of the HA 1988 must not specify a date for possession earlier than three months from the date of the notice
  • notices of proceedings for possession in respect of introductory tenancies under section 128 of the Housing Act 1996 must specify a date not earlier than three months from the date of the notice
  • notices of proceedings for possession in respect of demoted tenancies under section 143E of the Housing Act 1996 must specify a date not earlier than three months from the date of the notice
  • Also note that from 27 March 2020 under the Civil Procedure Rules Practice Direction 51Z (CPR PD 51Z):
    • paragraph 2—all proceedings for housing possession brought under the CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession are stayed for a period of 90 days from 27 March 2020
    • paragraph 3—claims for injunctive relief are not subject to the stay set out in paragraph 2
    • paragraph 1—the PD ceases to have effect on 30th October 2020

4. All of these new provisions apply to any notice served within the relevant period (for these purposes 25 March 2020 until 30 September 2020, subject to the possibility of an extension.)

5. Similar provision is made for flexible, demoted and introductory tenancies.

6. New prescribed forms have been created to reflect the extended notice periods. The legislation includes provision for those notice periods to be extended even further, up to six months

7. Practice direction, PD51Z, introduced on 27 March 2020 and effective until 30 October 2020 confirms that all proceedings for possession brought under CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession are stayed for a period of 90 days from 27 March 2020. Therefore no possession claim can proceed and no possession order can be enforced until 25 June 2020 at the earliest. All possession claims are automatically stayed.


Landlord & Tenant: Rental arrears – free letter to your landlord.

Are you struggling to pay the rent due to the Coronavirus-19? Is your landlord harassing you for your rental arrears or attempting to evict you during this coronavirus period? If so we may be able to help you with a letter that we have drafted that you can send to your Landlord.

Read more here.


How can I get a witness to sign during the Covid-19 Lockdown?

We understand it may be difficult to get an important document signed and witnessed during the Covid-19 lockdown period. You may consider asking your neighbours to be your independent witnesses to signing such documents. In this instance you could set up a table outside and in close proximity to your neighbours homes and where all the parties wear masks and gloves and stand at a safe distance to witness you sign the document. Once you have signed the document you can then move to a safe distance away from the table to enable each witness to then approach the table (one at a time) to sign the document, whilst wearing gloves and a mask. Once the documents have been completed, your neighbours can retreat to their homes to carefully wash their hands and you can then collect the document and table to return to your home to carefully wash your hands.

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