‘My tenant is falsely using coronavirus as an excuse to occupy my property. What can I do?’

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Q On returning from abroad after a mentally harrowing and emotionally traumatic foreign lockdown, I found that my tenant, who is not financially struggling, is using the pandemic to occupy my flat indefinitely. He is using coronavirus as an excuse to prevent me from legally reclaiming my flat through section 21.

With the eviction courts closed indefinitely, I feel the most efficient way to do this is by selling my home to my family in order to gain back possession of it. It is my only and primary home which I rented out while abroad.

Can you advise if there would be any problems evicting my tenant, who has already long overstayed a legal eviction, at the conclusion of the house sale? If they refuse to leave, what can I do?

CT, by email

A I don’t think selling your home to your family will assist in evicting the tenant. You can serve a section 21 notice but the minimum period has been increased from two months to three months.  

At the moment there is a complete ban on the issue of new possession proceedings but, as things stand that will expire at the end of June. Accordingly, if you serve a valid section 21 notice now (and please note there is a new prescribed form as a result of the changes made by the Coronavirus Act), then you should be able to issue possession proceedings in the normal way once the three months’ notice is up.  It goes without saying that that may change. 

Please note, however, that there are a number of technicalities that have to be complied with before a valid section 21 notice can be served. First, the deposit must have been protected and the prescribed information given within 30 days of receipt. If that wasn’t done then before serving any section 21 notice, the deposit must be refunded to the tenant.  

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