With effect from 24 July 2020, the Welsh Ministers have exercised powers given to them under Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (“CVA 2020”), so as to alter the minimum period of notice a landlord must now give most assured or assured shorthold tenants of a property in Wales before possession proceedings can be issued.

What has changed?

On 23 July 2020, the Welsh Ministers laid new Regulations before the Welsh Assembly - The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Assured Tenancies and Assured Shorthold Tenancies, Extension of Notice Periods) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2020. Usually, there is a convention that regulations will not take effect for a minimum of 21 days from the date they are laid before the Assembly. However, these regulations apply from 24 July 2020, given a perceived urgency.

As a result, unless a private or social landlord is relying on Ground 7A or 14, all notices issued between 24 July and 30 September 2020 must give a minimum period of six months’ notice to assured or assured shorthold tenants in Wales.

Where landlords are relying upon either 7A and/or 14 - commonly dubbed the anti-social behaviour grounds - they can continue to give a minimum of three months’ notice.

What about notices for assured tenants issued between 27 March and 23 July 2020?

Possession notices served between 27 March and 23 July 2020 are unaffected: the original extended 3-month notice period applies regardless of the grounds.

However, providers will want to check to ensure that any notices drawn up on or before 23 July 2020 which rely upon grounds other than 7A and 14, were actually served (not just ‘sent’) before the changes took effect on 24 July 2020; otherwise, they may be invalid.

What happens after 30 September 2020?

As matters currently stand, after 30 September 2020, the notice periods which must be given in England and Wales will revert to those which existed prior to the pandemic and the changes made by Schedule 29 of the CVA 2020 cease to be of effect.

However, both the Secretary of State (in respect of England) and the Welsh Ministers (in respect of Wales) also have the power - under paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 29 of the CVA 2020 - to extend the date of 30 September 2020 to any later date.

Although they have not currently done so, the Welsh Ministers have signalled that this is something they may consider doing.

Do these changes affect landlords who operate their businesses in England?

The need to comply with the regulations depends upon the location of the tenanted property - not the location of the landlord or their registered head office.

Accordingly, landlords who are based in England but who have housing stock in Wales, will need to ensure they comply with the new Welsh regulations in respect of their Welsh housing stock.

How can we help you?

We remain well placed to continue to help you deal with cases swiftly and are in regular contact with your local courts to keep a finger on the pulse of any differing practices they are adopting.  

If you have any queries around what is discussed in this article, or the steps that you can take in any given case, please do not hesitate to speak to Simon Strelitz, or any of your contacts at Capsticks, to find out more about how we can help.