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Temporary increase in eviction notice period for tenants

A temporary increase in the notice period for eviction will provide greater protection from homelessness for tenants in private rented and housing association accommodation in Wales.

The change, which comes into force today (Friday), means that unless a tenant is being evicted on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, they will be entitled to six months’ notice instead of three. This will apply for all notices issued until at least the end of September.

Announcing the increase, housing minister Julie James said:

‘Whilst the coronavirus outbreak is affecting everyone, we know it is having a more significant financial impact on some of the more vulnerable people in our society, many of whom are tenants in private rented accommodation.

‘It is vital that no renter in Wales will be forced out of their home during this difficult time. These temporary changes will ensure 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 have more security; and those at risk of eviction will have more time to get help to resolve any problems.’

While the changes only apply to those renting their homes from private landlords or housing associations, the Welsh Government is working with local authorities to ensure their tenants benefit from the same protection.

Work is also underway to ensure tenants are supported to repay any rent arrears that have occurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Julie James added:

‘While these changes offer greater protection to tenants, they are not an excuse for people not to pay their rent if they are able to, and address any financial problems they are experiencing. Having an early conversation with landlords to work out a way forward is vital, as is getting the right debt advice. We have recently invested an extra £1.4m in advice services to ensure people have the help they need to build financial capability and to claim the benefits they are entitled to.’

The increase in notice periods has been implemented using powers of the Welsh Ministers under the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The changes apply to assured and assured shorthold tenancies which comprise the vast majority of tenancies granted in the private rented sector and by housing associations. They are granted under the Housing Act 1988.

Separate consideration will be given to extending the period during which the temporary notice periods apply beyond September 30.

Eviction proceedings against tenants in social and private rented accommodation have been suspended in courts in England and Wales until August 23.

Separately, the UK government has amended the Civil Procedure Rules so that when proceedings resume, all landlords will be required to provide information to the court regarding the impact of COVID-19, and any general vulnerability of the tenant. This is to assist the court in exercising its discretion in deciding whether to make a possession order.

However, in relation to the ‘no fault’ (section 21) and serious rent arrears grounds under the 1988 Act, the court is obliged to make a possession order where the ground is made out. Since the Practice Direction can only be of limited effect in such cases, the changes to notice periods in Wales are designed to provide further protection to tenants.

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