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1950s Looking Back At Laws During The Coronation : Commercial Litigation

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Commercial Litigation

The law surrounding recovery of unpaid rent has developed greatly since before and after the 1950s.

The Distress Act 1267 is the oldest formally written law which is still in force today. This Act made it illegal to obtain distresses (the recovery of damages which can be monetary in terms of rent due) outside of the legal system, regardless of class or estate.

The law was further developed, including by the Distress for Rent Act 1737, which saw a more effective way of securing rent from tenants. As an example, a landlord could no longer take a tenants corn as distress for unpaid rent if the rent was paid before the corn was cut.

The 1950s saw a highly controversial piece of legislation, the Rent Act 1957. The purpose was to resolve the housing shortage following the war and protect tenants from unfair rents. What was charged as rent was controlled rather than set by the rental market, meaning rents were lower. The Act was later updated in 1977 and became the basis for residential landlords and prevention of unfair rent. During the same year, the Protection from Eviction Act was brought in to force which defines unlawful eviction and aims to prevent it.

Recovering Rents in 2022

Residential landlords can now, under the Housing Act 1988, claim possession of their property should a tenant fall in to rent arrears.

Before resorting to possession, a landlord should consider contacting the tenants to determine whether the problem is short term and if a solution can be found. Failing that, possession can be sought by serving a Section 8 notice.

A Section 8 notice can be served during the term of the fixed term tenancy. The notice can only be issued if there has been a breach of terms by the tenant. Unpaid rent is a breach of the tenancy and can be relied upon in the notice using ground 8 – there are various grounds on which a Section 8 notice can be served covering different situations.

After the Section 8 notice has been served on the tenant and the time period specified has expired, the landlord can apply to the Court for a possession order. The landlord can then bring a claim for recovery of the unpaid rent.

Another notice that can be served is a Section 21 notice. This notice is used by a landlord to obtain possession of their property at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy, whereas, a Section 8 notice is used when a tenant is in breach of their tenancy agreement.

If you are a landlord seeking recovery of unpaid rent or a tenant that has been served with a Section 8 or 21 notice, our Commercial Litigation team will be able to advise you further.