Hot off the Press - Ban on evictions extended by 2 months!
1st July 2020
1st July 2020
Renters across England and Wales will receive greater protection after the government extended the suspension of new evictions until 23 August 2020.
The Lord Chancellor has requested and the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (“CPRC”) agree to extend the ban on eviction proceedings by a further 2 months commencing 25 June 2020 and following on directly from the current ban. The CPRC makes rules to set out the practice and procedure to be followed in the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the County Court.
The 2 month extension will apply to home owners and commercial and leasehold tenants and takes the suspension on evictions to a total of 5 months to ensure that renters continue to have certainty and security.
The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP and Secretary of State for Housing announced on 5 June 2020:
Suspension of evictions from social or private rented accommodation extended by 2 months;
New court rules will ensure vulnerable renters will be protected when the suspension of evictions ends;
Government committed to ensuring that no one is evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus;
Guidance which helps landlords and tenants to work together to resolve issues at the earliest opportunity.
Ministers say that they are also working with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements, including new rules, which will mean that courts are better able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties, including those shielding from Coronavirus. This is to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need.
Where tenants do experience financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, the Government is clear that landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options, such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant’s individual circumstances, to ensure cases only end up in Court as an absolute last resort.
While the Government is taking unprecedented action to protect tenants and, they say, landlords during these times, they also say that the ambition is to transition out of these measures at the end of August to allow the market to operate while ensuring people have appropriate access to justice.
Possession Claims can still be issued - so don’t delay!
The new rules should clarify that:-
Time does not run during the stay
This is important because both Section 8 and 21 Notices have a “shelf-life” of 12 and 6 months respectively and possession claims have to be issued within that deadline period. Whether the fact that time is said not to run during the stay will negate the need to re-serve a notice is yet to be clarified although please note the point made below on issuing proceedings during this time.
Claims can still be issued during this time.
Notwithstanding the stay there is nothing to prevent a landlord from sending to the court proceedings for issue where a relevant notice has been served and time for the tenant to vacate has expired. Whilst the court may not currently process the claim it is expected that it will at least sit in the queue ready to be processed immediately following the eventual lifting of the current stay. This will/should ensure that the claim is issued ahead of all of those other landlords waiting for the stay to be lifted. It may save valuable time once action is permissible.
The stay does not apply to CPR 55.6 claims.
CPR Part 55.6 relates to claims against persons unknown (essentially claims against squatters as distinct from lawful occupiers) or for interim possession orders.
In addition to the above and, as suggested in our attached March 2020 Legal Update, “Coronavirus Act 2020 - What it really means for residential tenants”, and our May 2020 Legal Update, “Is the government planning to extend the ban on evictions?”, given that the Coronavirus Act 2020 does not prevent possession notices from being served during the Court restrictions, a landlord considering recovering possession of their properties in the upcoming months would be well advised not to delay and proceed with service of the required notice to bring the tenancy to an end. Given also that, as a result of the Coronavirus Act 2020, that notice (whether under section 8 or 21) will currently run for a period of not less then three months, landlords should served the notice at the earliest opportunity. This may also avoid the further, anticipated, delays that the proposed new pre-action protocol will cause when it is brought in. It is expected that the new protocol will apply from the end of the postponement on evictions, although it is still unclear exactly when that will be implemented and what it will entail.
If your landlords are unclear as to what they can or should be serving or whether they can serve notices on their tenants at this time or require guidance on how to serve during this period then, before taking any steps which may be incorrect and costly in respect of time, they would be well advised to seek legal advice.
For more information, please contact Susan Fox, Senior Litigation Executive, on 01435 897297 or email@example.com.
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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