Coronavirus legislation to affect notices for residential properties

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Amendments to the Coronavirus Bill propose wholesale changes to notices for various types of residential tenancies.

The amendments would initially be in force from the commencement of the Act until 30 September 2020, although that date can be extended.

Notice period change

The amendments change the notice period to three months for any notice served on a Rent Act tenancy, secure tenancy, flexible tenancy, assured tenancy, assured shorthold tenancy, introductory tenancy or a demoted tenancy during the period until 30 September 2020.

That three month notice period can be extended by up to six months, although it is not clear what would then happen to notices already served.  There are amendments to the relevant forms to reflect these changes.

Notices for Rent Act tenancies will also change. Possession proceedings for a property let to a statutory tenant under a Rent Act tenancy cannot begin unless:

  • the landlord has given notice of intention to commence possession proceedings;
  • the notice period is at least three months; and
  • proceedings begin on or after the intended date for commencing proceedings.

 

These requirements can be dispensed with if the court consider it just and equitable to do so.

A notice of intention to commence possession proceedings must:

  • be in writing;
  • describe the statutory tenancy;
  • state the address of the dwelling house, the name of the statutory tenant and the name and address of the landlord;
  • state that the landlord intends to commence proceedings to obtain possession of the dwelling house as against the statutory tenant;
  • state the ground or grounds on which the landlord intends to seek possession of the dwelling house;
  • state the reason or reasons why the landlord believes the grounds or grounds to be applicable;
  • state the date on or after which the landlord intends to commence the possession proceedings; and
  • explain that the landlord cannot commence those proceedings, in reliance on the notice, unless that date falls at least three months after notice is given and not before.

 

The proposals do not deal with existing proceedings, although our experience is that most courts are adjourning current proceedings, and not enforcing warrants, but we would advise checking with the individual court.  Do not attend court but contact them by telephone or e-mail first.

Also, notices already served do not appear to be affected and there would not appear to be any restriction on issuing proceedings based on that notice, although when any order may be made, remains to be seen.

If you need any specific help or advice on your position then please contact any member of our Real Estate Dispute Resolution team.