thank you. Based upon what you say, regardless of what you may or may not have signed, you hold an assured shorthold tenancy for the property. it may well be that you signed an assured shorthold tenancy agreement seven years ago but whether you did or did not, that is what you hold by virtue of the fact that you live in the property as your residence, pay rent, and the landlord does not live with you.
Accordingly, the landlord would have to serve you with a s21 notice using form 6A to commence eviction proceedings. Following the passing of the coronavirus Bill yesterday, landlords are now required to provide three months notice to tenants they wish to evict. If the landlord serves a valid notice (note that the notice will not be valid unless it is served using form 6A (example below)) then you will have three months to leave in accordance withthe date of the notice. However, if you do not do so, nothing will happen as the landlord is then forced to issue proceedings in the County Court to obtain a possession order. As things stand, the County courts appear to have adjourned all possession claims until June and it may be that there will be a further adjournment depending upon how things play out. It is also likely that in any event, the courts will be dealing with huge backlogs and even if the landlord does serve a valid notice as discussed above, it would not surprise me in the least if it took 2 to 4 months for the application to be considered by the court but this is to some extent conjecture on my part. Under normal circumstances, possession claims will be considered within 4-6 weeks of application.
If the court finds that everything is in order and makes a possession order against you, you can seek leave from the court for up to 6 weeks in delay if you can demonstrate hardship-this is often easier if you can show that it will affect your children. Following the possession order, if you still refuse to leave, the landlord would have to seek a warrant to secure bailiffs to attend which under normal circumstances usually takes a further 2 to 4 weeks but in the current circumstances could be longer.
Accordingly, it is likely that under any circumstances you will have some not inconsiderable amount of time to plan for a move and should certainly have no immediate concerns. Under normal circumstances I generally advise that despite the above, it is worth starting to look for a new property so that you are not leaving this until the last minute and potentially forced to accept the property that does not fit your needs but under the current circumstances, that is clearly not practical and I think for now there is little you can or should need to do beyond perhaps some casual browsing of letting advertisements online if you wished to get a feel for the market
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