Newport-based lawyers Bellavia & Associates regularly helps private residential landlords recover possession of their properties from tenants.

The law in relation to the possession of residential property is not straightforward in ordinary times, and it has become a veritable minefield since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

There are two legal routes landlords can go down when seeking to regain possession of their properties: A Section 8 notice is used if tenants have broken the terms of their tenancy; or a Section 21 notice is used to end an assured shorthold tenancy on a specific date.

The notice periods for both routes have been extended by temporary Covid legislation, and the team at Bellavia & Associates has noticed an increasing number of landlords falling foul of these changes.

The consequences of getting the notice wrong, or issuing a notice when there is a statutory impediment, are serious, with the possibility of significant delay being caused before possession of the property can be sought.

James Subbiani, senior associate solicitor at Bellavia & Associates, said: “Recently we have seen invalidly issued Section 21 notices by landlords, which, because the of the Covid amendments, are 6-month notices.

“The errors only becoming apparent when we have been instructed to commence possession proceedings. The result has been the landlord having to remedy the problem and re-issue a new 6-month notice.”

Section 21 notices cannot be issued if the details recorded by Rent Smart Wales for the tenancy are incorrect or if the tenant’s deposit has not been properly placed with the Tenant’s Deposit Protection Scheme.

Once proceedings are issued, the court process has also been amended by the Covid legislation.

Mr Subbiani said: “Given the pitfalls and hazards in relation to recovering possession of residential property we strongly recommend that landlords and agents take early advice, preferably before issuing the Section 8 or Section 21 notice.”