Coronavirus Act 2020 comes into force

New legislation to tackle the impact of COVID-19 has been fast-tracked through Parliament

The government has now confirmed that rather than enforcing a complete ban on evictions during the Coronavirus outbreak – as everyone in the industry thought – instead, the notice period for evictions is to change. The Coronavirus Act 2020– given Royal Assent on 25 March – simply extends the notice required.

Paperwork released overnight as the Act came into force, appears to confirm this, saying: “The prescribed forms that apply to secure tenancies have been changed to reflect the changes to possession procedures in the Coronavirus Act 2020. The amended forms now make it clear that court proceedings cannot begin earlier than three months from the date the notice is served.” Go to the Government website to see the updated Assured Tenancy forms and the Secured Tenancy forms.

In addition, a Section 21 (no fault) end of tenancy notice can still be served by landlords but cannot be progressed further and the Section 8 (breach) notice period has been extended from two weeks to two months.

The Courts

All courts and tribunals are closed until at least 29 May 2020, with that date to be extended if necessary. However, some hearings are having telephone meetings to avoid any personal contact.

Housing

For anyone buying or selling their house, the current advice is that buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving while emergency measures are in place. People who have already exchanged contracts should try to write a delay into their contract. However, the Conveyancing Association is seeking ‘urgent guidance’ from the government as to whether moving house is deemed ‘essential’ under the new regulations now in force. Removal services have been deemed non-essential, so if people really have to move they are likely to be doing it themselves – and should use social distancing at all times.

Finally, one positive is that hotel apartment lets are coming back onto the market to be let as tenancies.