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Further Guidance On Delays For Possession Proceedings

View profile for Mollie Leak
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Over the recent months there have been many changes in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. These have included changes for individuals, businesses, landlords and tenants. Recently, further guidance has been released from Government on the stay of evictions for tenants in England and Wales. Mollie Leak, Solicitor in our Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, outlines the latest Government announcement on the eviction process and its effects on landlords and tenants.  

Extension of stay on evictions

Late on Friday 5 June 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that it intends to extend the stay on evictions from rented accommodation in England and Wales until 23 August 2020, when the first cases are due to be heard.

The commencement date of 23 August 2020 has meant a further 2 month stay of cases that were due to be heard on 25 June, which was the last date the Government published back in March 2020. This will be mean a total delay of five months since the introduction of the stay in March and could result in no evictions this summer.

It is hoped that the measures will end in August to ensure that the housing market can become fully functional and allow everyone access to justice.

How does this affect landlords?  

If a tenant is struggling financially as a result of the pandemic, landlords are still being asked to co-operate with tenants and to only use possession proceedings as a last resort.

This stay in proceedings continues to put landlords at a financial disadvantage during this pandemic, where they may have to pay a mortgage on their own home and the mortgage on the rented property. However, Landlords are still able to use a number of provisions to help them with any financial concerns they may be having as a result of the stay on evictions. These options are as follows:

  • Apply for a mortgage holiday; or
  • Apply for an extension to any existing holiday until 31 October 2020; or
  • Pursue any rent arrears as a debt from the tenant.

Review of possession proceedings

The Government also announced that there will be a judiciary led working group that will be reviewing what the affect of the stay on possession proceedings is likely to be and the impact that lifting the stay will have on both landlords and tenants. In particular this working group will focus on ensuring new rules are in place to give appropriate protection for those who are vulnerable or are shielding when the stay is lifted. It therefore seems likely that there are going to be significant changes to the way landlords are able to recover possession in the near future especially where their tenants have underlying health concerns.

If you are a landlord with questions about how you can proceed over the coming weeks and months during the Covid-19 pandemic, you can contact Mollie on 023 8071 7487 or email mollieleak@warnergoodman.co.uk.  While we are not taking appointments at our offices, we are still open for business with our teams working from home, and are able to support you during this time of need.

ENDS

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.