The law has changed: what landlords and tenants need to know


The government has set out a new level of legal protection for both tenants and landlords in the rental market. Here’s how the changes could affect you.

A number of rule changes have now come into force which will impact thousands of renters and buy-to-let landlords across the country. The legislation aims to help those in the private rented sector who are affected, either directly or indirectly, by the coronavirus outbreak.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick says the move marks an “unprecedented measure to help keep people in their homes over the winter months”. He also reassures landlords that they will “have access to justice” too in the event of rogue tenants.

New rules protecting tenants

Landlords must now give tenants six months’ notice to evict them from their properties. This change, which was announced at the end of August, has now been solidified by emergency legislation.

The extended notice period will be in effect until at least the end of March 2021. It means tenants will be able to stay in their homes over winter. The government’s “winter truce” also means evictions due to take place in local lockdown areas won’t be enforced by bailiffs. The only exception to this will be in serious cases involving antisocial behaviour or domestic abuse.

A £180m funding package is also now available for local authorities to support vulnerable renters. This will contribute towards ‘Discretionary Housing Payments’ which councils can distribute to help renters with housing costs.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick says: “We have protected renters during the pandemic by banning evictions for six months – the longest eviction ban in the UK.”

“To further support renters we have increased notice periods to six months, an unprecedented measure to help keep people in their homes over the winter months.”

Are landlords protected too?

The government is often heavily criticised within the PRS for a lack of protection for landlords. Since March, landlords have not been able to access courts to regain possession of their properties. This includes cases where tenants have broken the law, have serious rent arrears or antisocial behaviour issues.

Now, the government says it would like to “thank landlords for their forbearance during this difficult time”. In its announcement, the Housing Department has also explained how it will help landlords in difficulty.

The courts will reopen from 21st September to hear possession cases. Cases will be subject to new court processes and proceedings, including:

  • Courts will hear cases in order of priority. Cases where there is extreme antisocial behaviour or other crimes will take precedence. The same applies for extreme rent arrears where landlords would otherwise face unmanageable debts.
  • No cases from before 3 August 2020 will immediately proceed to hearing. The landlord will have to ‘re-activate’ these cases.
  • Landlords will also need to provide the courts and judges with information on how tenants have been affected by the pandemic. Without this information, judges will be able to adjourn proceedings until it is provided.

Robert Jenrick adds: “It’s right that we strike a balance between protecting vulnerable renters and ensuring landlords whose tenants have behaved in illegal or anti-social ways have access to justice.”

“Our legislation means such cases will be subject to shorter notice periods and then prioritised through the judiciary’s new court processes.”

Tenants must pay their rent

Some landlords have made agreements with their tenants to reduce or delay rent payments. Unplanned rent arrears have only happened in a minority of cases, according to a poll by the NRLA.

The survey revealed that an overwhelming majority of tenants and landlords have been working together throughout the crisis. More than 95% of private renters have continued to pay rent, or have set up an agreement with their landlord.

Around 87% have continued to pay full rent as normal throughout the past few months, said the survey. Only 3% of tenants who are in arrears are unwilling or unable to repay their rent. Of these, less than a third have received a possession notice from their landlord.

And the NRLA has found that landlords are doing “everything they can to keep tenants in their homes”. More than half (55%) of landlords have allowed at least one tenant to defer their rent, and plan to absorb these losses themselves.

In the government’s latest statement, it adds: “We are very conscious of the pressure on landlords and do not want to exacerbate this. It is important to stress that tenants who are able to do so must continue to pay their rent.”

Highgrove Mews

High Net Yield Freehold Houses

  • Commutable to London (27 mins to central Paddington station)
  • Rental demand extremely strong with large industry presence in Reading
  • Freehold with 4% net yield

£284,955 - £457,000

St Petersgate – Stockport Manchester

New Launch - Stockport Manchester, apartments from £160,000

  • Discounted launch prices from £160,000
  • Excellent transport links with 3 trains per hour to London Euston and only 9 mins journey to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Experienced development team

Assured Rent Housing Association Leases

Assured Rent Housing Association Leases

  • Assured rent & no rental voids
  • Tenant damage cover & newly refurbished inline with requirements of a corporate sitting tenant
  • Free property and lettings management

From £62,000

Emerging Birmingham Commuter Town With Properties From Just £104,000

The emerging Birmingham commuter town where properties are selling in an average of just 24 days

  • A collection of 62 two bedroom apartments and 28 one bedroom apartments.
  • DE14 is one of the fastest selling postcodes in the West Midlands.
  • 23 minute train journey into Birmingham New Street Station.

Properties from £104,000

Mill, Stockport

The Northwest's emerging property hotspot

  • Discounted off-plan 2-bed prices from £162,000
  • Completion date - Q4 2021
  • Rental yields - 6% plus

Discounted off-plan 2-bed prices from £162,000

South Central – Birmingham City Centre Apartments

Highly anticipated 28 storey launch in Birmingham City Centre with an impressive roof garden and communal facilities.

  • 154 units across 28 storeys
  • Residential multi-media community room, gym, roof garden and sky cinema
  • Excellent future connectivity via the metro system to other key transport hubs and locations around the city

from £205,800


Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today: 

+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT

+852 9865 4446

Open from 9am-6pm HKT

Stamp Duty Calculator


Unlock members only investment opportunities and full development details. Join now – it’s free, quick and easy.


Not a member? Sign up for free

The law has changed: what landlords and tenants need to know


By submitting your details via this online form you agree to be contacted via email/phone/SMS by Direct Marketplace Ltd t/a BuyAssociation in relation to property investment and property developments . We do not share your personal details with third parties.  To view our full Privacy Policy click here.