Update 18/03/2020: The Government Has Today Stated They Will Be Passing Emergency Legislation To Stop Evictions For At Least 3 Months.
The government has not yet outlined what these protections will involve, but there will be no eviction proceedings in the courts for at least a 3 month period. It has been advised that the expectation at the end of this period will be for tenants and landlords to work out a realistic repayment plan for any rent missed in this 3 month period, taking into account the circumstances. It is not clear whether landlords will be able to immediately start proceedings for evictions at the end of the period for rent arrears that accrued during this time. It is also unclear whether there will be any increased protection for tenants of live-in landlords. For the full statement from the UK government, please click here.
Until this has been confirmed, the original advice is available below. None of the below advice (with the exclusion of lodgers with live-in landlords, who do not require court action to evict and therefore have a more uncertain position) is likely to apply until at least June 18th 2020.
If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy:
Your landlord cannot evict you without an order from the court granting him possession of the property. If the landlord wants to evict you, he has to send you a notice requiring possession. This will be either a Section 21 or Section 8 notice.
If you are in a fixed term tenancy:
The landlord can only evict you during the fixed term of the tenancy by issuing a Section 8 notice and going to court. If you have less than 8 weeks rent arrears, it is up to the judge to decide whether you should be evicted. You would be able to submit a defence that it was due to financial problems caused by coronavirus. If you have over 8 weeks rent arrears, it is a mandatory ground for eviction, so the judge will allow the eviction.
If you are in a periodic ‘rolling’ tenancy, or your fixed term is ending soon and has not been renewed:
The landlord can use the accelerated Section 21 process to evict you with 2 months notice, whether you have any rent arrears or not. However, you should always seek advice if you receive an eviction notice, as many of them are invalid, which can significantly delay the eviction.
If you have a license agreement for accommodation where the landlord does not live with you (for example, in a student hall)
Your landlord can only evict you before the end of the fixed term if there is a clause in the contract stating they can do so. Any such clause should set out what notice you should be given. By law, you are entitled to ‘reasonable’ notice, and the landlord still has to apply to the court to evict you.
If you live with your landlord
Your landlord can evict you without a court order. You are still legally entitled to reasonable notice. The landlord can change the locks themselves.