Guidance on possession proceedings and evictions

13 May 2021

During the coronavirus crisis, the government banned bailiff enforcement of evictions, and required landlords to provide six months’ notice when seeking possession of residential property. These temporary measures change at the end of May 2021 as follows:

  • The ban on bailiff-enforced evictions will end.
  • Lengths of notice periods (which are currently at six months) will be tapered down to four months from 1 June and subsequently to two months from 1 August for claims brought on the basis of rent arrears of less than four months.
  • Subject to the public health advice and progress with the government’s roadmap, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October 2021.
  • Exceptions remain in place for shorter notice periods, which can be used in serious circumstances such as antisocial behaviour, certain cases of domestic abuse, illegal occupations, or serious rent arrears (now defined as over four months).
  • Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases.

New legislation gives full details of all the changes and the government’s guidance on possession proceedings will be updated, and gives an overview of the whole process of evictions.

The NHF supports an extension to longer notice periods remaining in place to give greater security to all residents. We are in conversations with MHCLG about this, and welcome a review in September on any need for a further extension.

Regardless of policies on evictions and possession proceedings, the housing association sector is committed to supporting residents, working with them to keep them in their home wherever possible. Our sector has committed to not evict people in financial difficulty who are engaging with this support. You can read more about this commitment on our website. Any resident worried about paying their rent should contact their housing association, who will help.

In addition, from 4 May 2021 the new ‘Breathing Space’ debt respite scheme will give someone in problem debt the right to legal protections from their creditors. The scheme pauses any enforcement action such as serving a notice of intention to seek possession. New legislation has been issued that amends the prescribed form for a notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy.

If you have any questions about possession proceedings and evictions, please get in touch with us using the details below.  

Who to speak to

Sue Ramsden, Policy Leader