Update on possessions: eviction ban extension and new rules for proceeding in court
Courts in England and Wales had been due to reopen for possession hearings on 24 of August, however, the ban on evictions has now been extended for another 4 weeks.
That means landlords who have been trying to evict tenants for non-payment of rent since before the pandemic began, will have been unable to do so for 6 months by the time the courts do reopen, on 21 September.
In the announcement, made on Friday 21 August, the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, also said that he intended to increase protection for renters in England by introducing 6-month notice periods. This has not yet been passed into law, but landlords should expect it to be, in the near future.
Full information on the announcement can be found on the government website.
Covid temporary provision
In addition, when possession hearings are re-started, there are some new rules you need to be aware of.
On Friday 17 July, it was announced that a 'COVID-19 temporary provision' was being added to existing regulations and will remain in place until 28 March 2021. The new rules require landlords who already have possession claims in the system relating to non-payment of rent, to serve a ‘reactivation notice’, informing both their tenant and the court that they wish to resume the action.
The hope is that some landlords will have been able to resolve the matter with their tenant over the last few months and no longer require court action. Of those that remain, this measure is intended to help ensure cases are correctly prioritised and the court’s time is used effectively.
In addition to serving the ‘reactivation notice’, landlords must also provide the court with any relevant information about the tenant’s situation with regard to COVID-19, such as whether they have been ill or are shielding, along with a full arrears history.
With around 5,700 cases believed to be in the system backlog and social distancing rules affecting the number of cases that can be heard each day, there’s no question many landlords will face additional time and expense before they can regain possession of their properties.
If you have any questions or concerns about a current eviction action relating to a property that we are managing on your behalf, please do contact us at any time.
Full government information is available in the House of Commons Briefing Paper.