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Amendments to possession proceedings due to come into force
- AuthorMollie Leak
Further to The Civil Procedure (Amendment No.2) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020, that were introduced in June 2020, possession proceedings were stayed again up to 23 August 2020. With this deadline soon approaching and the coronavirus restrictions continuing to ease slightly, further changes have been made to the regulations. Mollie Leak, Solicitor in our Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, explains the changes that are due to come into force and explains how landlords should proceed over the coming months should they wish to serve their tenant with a Section 8 or Section 21 Notice.
The Civil Procedure (Amendment No.4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 amends Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules. Part 55 is the process that is followed when seeking possession either under a Section 8 (used when your tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement) or a Section 21 Notice (used when the fixed term of the tenancy is coming to an end or it has already ended).
The new amendments, which come into force on 23 August and are due to expire on 28 March 2021, deal with how best to move matters forward considering the current five month backlog and how to restart possession proceedings.
What changes are to be made to the regulations regarding possession proceedings?
The following changes are going to be made and are applicable to current stayed claims and future claims:
- A party will need to file and serve a “reactivation notice”.
A landlord or tenant can serve a reactivation notice on the Court if the claim was issued before 3 August 2020. However, given that the “reactivation notice” will result in the continuance of the possession proceedings, it is likely that you as the landlord will need to file and serve a “reactivation notice” for your claim once the expiration of the stay has occurred. The reactivation notice is given to both the Court and the tenant that you still wish to pursue possession proceedings. If no reactivation notice is provided to the Court and the tenant then the claim remains “dormant”, meaning that the stayed claim will not be heard, listed, relisted, or referred to a judge until a reactivation notice is served and filed.
- Rent Statements.
If the claim is issued under Section 8 proceedings, you will need to provide a rent statement for the entire term of the tenancy.You will need to produce the tenant’s history of rent arrears prior to any hearing.
- Tenant notice.
On all matters, you have to show that you have tried to contact the tenant to get a better understanding of how the coronavirus has had an impact on them and any of their dependants. If you are unable to show that you have tried to contact the tenant, the hearing may be adjourned. This notice should be filed and served before the hearing and should also be taken to the hearing. The notice allows the Court to determine the vulnerability and position of your tenant.
- Time Scale.
Usually once issued, the hearing for a possession proceedings claim would typically be within 8 weeks. This new amendment does not allow for this and at the current time there is no specific timeframe as to when you can anticipate receiving a hearing date.
What can I do if my tenant is struggling to pay their rent?
Before reaching the position where you are considering serving a notice for possession of your property, we would always advise having an open conversation with your tenant about how they can remain in the property and avoid these proceedings, particularly now with the delays in question. It is clear that their struggles will also impact you, as you still have your mortgage to pay, but if you can come to a financial agreement to ensure some income for you, this will be more beneficial for you in the long term. You could consider discussing a mortgage holiday with your lender or extend any mortgage holiday you have already had accepted; applications for mortgage holidays are due to close on 31st October 2020.
If you are a landlord and are currently waiting for your possession proceeding to be heard in the Courts, or you have a question regarding serving a Section 8 or Section 21 notice on your tenant, you can contact Mollie on 023 8071 7487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.