Last week preparations were being made by landlords, agents and their legal representatives to finalise reactivation notices to file at court and serve on tenants from the 24th August, to re-start possession claims.
Little government guidance was given as to the format and required content of that notice but everyone has got on with it.
On the last working day before the stay on possession claims officially ended on 23rd August, rumours were abounding about an extension to the stay. Later that afternoon, the government completed their U-turn. The stay on possession proceedings has been extended by four weeks, and now ends on 20th September 2020. Given that this is the second time, there feels little certainty about what might happen then.
The other notable announcement made that afternoon was by Robert Jenrick, the Housing Minister, who discussed a further extension of notice periods from 3 - 6 months.
Yet, on delving a little deeper, this just leads to more questions:
- From what date does the new notice period apply?
- Will the current rules on the shelf-life of the Section 21 Notice be amended, to avoid all notices being invalid for possession claims as soon as they expire?
- Are notices served last week giving three months’ notice still valid?
- Does the extension apply to Section 8 Notices too?
So far, all the government have offered is radio silence. They claim to have set out to give certainty to those struggling in these times of uncertainty, yet they have caused complete confusion throughout the lettings industry.
Possession claims will get back on track. This will take time, but it will happen. However, the impact on the private housing stock is looking considerably more uncertain, as there is evidence of many landlords intending to or already looking to sell up, fed up with the government constantly changing the goal posts and the seemingly complete lack of support for their predicaments.
There is no doubt that tenants need certainty right now, but so do landlords. The government wants to stop evictions, but potentially all they are doing is putting off the inevitable. This is resulting in debt on a huge level for all concerned, whether landlord or tenant, and perhaps even pushing landlords to consider taking the law into their own hands as desperate times call for desperate measures.
The silence from the government is deafening - we need communications to repoen, and answers to be provided.