A ban on landlords evicting tenants has now lifted.
The legislation covered tenants in both private and social rental homes.
A recent survey by homelessness charity Shelter suggests 322,000 private tenants in England have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started, and more than 170,000 private tenants had been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent.
You may have six months before you have to vacate your home
In England, if your landlord serves you an eviction notice on or after 29 August 2020 they must provide you with at least six months’ notice — unless they have legitimate grounds to get you out sooner (for more on which see point 2).
However, they may end a tenancy earlier in cases of antisocial and criminal behaviour and where the landlord or their family need to move into the property. Depending on the circumstances, the landlord may serve notice of either three-months or 28 days.
Reasons for which the six-month clause won’t apply
Six-months of rent arrears
Evidence of antisocial behaviour
Being a nuisance to your neighbours
Breach of your tenancy agreement
Using your home for illegal purposes, such as drug dealing
What happens if my landlord wants to evict me?
A section 21 notice is commonly referred to as a “no-fault eviction” as it means landlords can evict tenants who have come to the end of their fixed-term contract even if they have done nothing wrong. However, in such cases the six-month clause will apply.
A section 8 notice means a landlord has to have other grounds for evicting you. This might include falling behind on your rent, damage to the property or complaints from neighbours. In such cases the six-month clause may not apply.
Either notice will specify a date by which you are being asked to leave your home.
What happens if I don’t leave?
However, new legislation brought in by the government in June means landlords must submit evidence about how their tenants’ circumstances may have been affected by coronavirus.
As a tenant, you have the right to file a defence against a notice given under section 8 and to challenge the validity of the notice whichever process has been used. You might also provide a statement about how you have been affected by the pandemic if this is relevant.
If after a hearing, your landlord is granted a possession order and you continue to stay in the property, your landlord can apply for a warrant of possession, which enables a county court bailiff to evict you. You will receive 14 days’ notice of the eviction.
In some circumstances, you can apply to suspend the warrant. However, if you do not make an application or if the court does not agree to suspend the warrant, a county court bailiff will enforce the warrant and evict you from your home.
Your rights as a tenant
It is illegal for a landlord to evict you without giving you written notice or obtaining a court order.
A landlord is also not allowed to harass you or lock you out of your home, even temporarily.
For more on your rights as a renter, read our guide here.
What should I do if I can’t pay my rent?
Unless eviction proceedings are already active, it is important to talk to your landlord as soon as possible if you’re struggling to pay your rent.
If you can still afford to pay some of your rent, ask your landlord if they would accept a reduced payment for a period of time, particularly if you think you will be able to make up the shortfall once your finances have recovered.
It would also be worth checking to see if there are any government benefits available to you.
If you already claim Universal Credit or housing benefit, you may be able to get discretionary housing payment through your local council. This is a system that allows rent benefit payments to be paid directly to landlords.