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Further delays to evictions expected as country goes into second lockdown

9th November 2020

On 21 October 2020, the Lord Chancellor, The Right Honourable Robert Buckland QC MP, requested that no evictions take place in parts of the country affected by the Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions. It was therefore inevitable that the request would extend to Tier 1 areas in the event of a further national lockdown, and that is exactly what has happened.

Yesterday, as the country entered a second period of lockdown, the Lord Chancellor again wrote to the Chairman of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (and it is expected that a similar letter has also been sent to the County Court bailiffs), requesting that no evictions take place in residential premises during this period for the protection of public health, except in some limited circumstances.

Those exceptions are for possession claims on grounds of :-

• Illegal trespass or squatting by persons unknown;

• Nuisance or antisocial behaviour;

• Domestic abuse;

• Fraud or deception; and

• Properties unoccupied following the death of the tenant.

The Lord Chancellor’s letter also says that an exemption for cases with extreme pre-COVID rent arrears will be introduced and further detail on this will follow shortly.

As with the request on 21 October 2020, some legal commentators have questioned the legality of the Lord Chancellor’s latest ‘request’, and whether such restrictions should have legislative backing. But until such time as the request is challenged or further guidance is released, landlords can expect no evictions to be carried out (save in the limited circumstances above), until the current lockdown is lifted on 02 December 2020 (and potentially longer, if the Tier system continues after this second lockdown).

It remains to be seen how this latest request will sit with the Tier system and whether, once lockdown is lifted on 02 December 2020, the bailiffs/HCEOs are to revert back to the 21 October 2020 request to postpone any evictions for properties in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas. However, given that the Lord Chancellor has now introduced exceptions for evictions that can go ahead during this lockdown period, it is hard to see that we will revert to a complete ban on evictions after lockdown, even if the Tier system continues. But watch this space.

This news will no doubt come as a blow to landlords who may have been waiting, potentially in excess of 8 months, for an eviction date. However, the exemption to be introduced for extreme pre-COVID rent arrears may see some of these cases progressed more quickly, in due course, and we wait further detail of what is to be considered as ‘extreme’ rent arrears for such evictions to proceed.


This legal update is provided free of charge for information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of KDL Law or by KDL Law as a whole.

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