News

Act re Coronavirus

The much publicised and far reaching Coronavirus Act, 2020 received Royal Assent on 25th March, 2020. Relating to, for instance, the emergency registration of health, care and social workers, to food supply chains, temporary closure of educational premises, to statutory sick pay and pensions and to the grant of various and all-consuming powers to prevent events and gatherings and closure of premises, the Act has effectively reduced our lives where the greatest excitement is the purchase of food or collection of prescribed drugs! Elections have been postponed, many court proceedings reduced to video links and statutory enforcement powers curtailed.

In the arena of landlord and tenant, residential tenants in England and Wales have been given temporary protection from eviction (s81 and Schedule 29 of the Act) and business tenants temporary protection from forfeiture for non-payment of rent (s82).

With residential tenancies, the relevant period commences today, 26 March 2020 and ends on 30 September 2020. During that period, the Protection from Eviction Act, 1977 is to be read as if, in relation to Rent Act protected and statutory tenants, a notice to quit given by a landlord must give 3 months’ and not 4 weeks’ notice. With secure tenancies, the landlord’s notice stating possession proceedings are to be commenced, the specified date must not be earlier than 3 months after the date of service of the notice.

Landlords of business tenants to whom the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1954 applies cannot enforce, by proceedings or otherwise, a right to forfeit or re-enter premises for non-payment of rent during the relevant period. In this case, the relevant period also commences on 26 March but expires on 30 June 2020 unless altered by statutory regulations.

In a Government press release dated 18 March, 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government expresses the hope that landlords and tenants will work together at the end of the relevant periods ‘to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individucal circumstances.’

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