Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government
As part of the work to prepare for and respond to the outbreak of covid-19, the four Governments across the UK came together to prepare overarching emergency legislation. The Coronavirus Act 2020 (‘the 2020 Act’) received Royal Assent on 25 March, and included a range of powers for the Welsh Ministers to both respond to and manage the transmission of the virus.
In relation to housing law, section 81 and Schedule 29 to the 2020 Act delays when a landlord is able to evict a tenant but does not prevent a landlord from serving a notice seeking possession. The Schedule applies to all landlords who have granted tenancies under the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Acts 1985, 1988 and 1996. Three months’ notice is required for notices served in respect of protected and statutory tenancies, secure tenancies, assured tenancies, assured shorthold tenancies, introductory tenancies and demoted tenancies.
Paragraph 13(1) of Schedule 29 to the 2020 Act gives the Welsh Ministers (as the “relevant national authority”) the power to amend Schedule 29 to alter a reference to three months into a reference to six months, or a reference to any other specified period which is less than six months.
Schedule 29 applies to notices served during the relevant period, which currently ends with the 30 September. The relevant period may be extended by the Welsh Ministers beyond 30 September 2020 using the power set out in paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 29.
During the debate on the Legislative Consent Motion for the 2020 Act, which was held on 24 March 2020, the Minister for Health and Social Services gave a commitment to provide a public statement on each use of the powers under the Act. I can now confirm that, as Minister for Housing and Local Government, I have made Regulations under paragraph 13(1) of Schedule 29 to the 2020 Act. The Regulations temporarily increase from three months to six months the notice to end a tenancy that landlords must give assured tenants under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (but excluding notices specifying Grounds 7A and 14) and to assured shorthold tenants under section 21 of that same Act.
The purpose of these temporary alterations is to ensure landlords give increased notice to tenants facing eviction from rented properties before landlords can issue proceedings for possession. The effect will to be to further delay evictions during the ongoing public health emergency; fewer people will face eviction into homelessness at a time when local authorities are less able to respond to these situations; those renting their homes will benefit from increased security and reduced anxiety; and individuals at risk of eviction will be provided with increased time to seek support to resolve any problems.
These Regulations apply to notices served on or after the date the Regulations come into force. The convention that not less than 21 days should elapse between the laying of the Regulations and their coming into force has not been followed in this case. This reflects the urgent need to provide greater security of tenure at this time, thus contributing to the measures already in place in response to the virus.