June 9, 2020

Ban on Tenant Eviction Proceedings Extended

In a previous article, which is available here, Landlord & Tenant Law specialist at Holmes & Hills SolicitorsDavid Sodimu discussed the changes to the notice periods for eviction notices arising from the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the ban placed on possession claims introduced by the Master of the Rolls and Lord Chancellor.

On 27 March 2020, the Courts suspended all ongoing possession proceedings for a period of 90 days under practice direction 51Z of the Civil Procedure Rules. This meant that neither possession claims currently issued, nor possession claims about to be issued, could progress to the stage where a tenant could be evicted.

On 5 June 2020 the Government extended the ban on proceedings claims for a further two months to 25 August 2020 upon the request of the Lord Chancellor. The decision has been made pursuant to the powers set out in section CPR 51.2 of the Civil Procedure Rules and the extension will come into effect on 25 June 2020.

The ban applies to all proceedings for possession brought under CPR 55 save for the following exceptions:

  1. Claims for injunctive relief
  2. Claims against trespassers to which CPR 55.6 applies (i.e. against persons unknown)
  3. Applications for case management directions which are agreed by all parties
  4. Applications for interim possession orders (claims against trespassers seeking only the recover of the property)

Do tenants still have to pay rent?

Tenants’ liability to pay rent remains unchanged. Government support for tenants is available where income has been adversely affected by Covid-19. However, Landlords are still encouraged to work with tenants to find workable solutions where possible.

What action is still available to landlords?

Although the general lockdown restrictions appear to be easing, it is important for landlords not to expect an immediate recovery of rent arrears from their tenants and to be prepared to take action where possible, notwithstanding the extension of the ban. Here are some practical tips on what still can be done: 

  • Where a landlord suspects that they will need to regain possession once the ban is lifted, they should serve the relevant notices bearing in mind the changes to various statutory notice periods under schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (as discussed in my previous article). This is to avoid any delay or prohibition in the ability to issue Court proceedings in the future.
  • Landlords should engage in pre-action correspondence with tenants to seek a resolution outside of court proceedings in the first instance.
  • Where tenants fail or refuse to pay rent and do not reasonably engage in discussions for alternative solutions regarding the payment of rent, landlords should consider issuing money claims to place pressure on tenants in appropriate circumstances – of course consideration should be given to whether sums claimed are realistically recoverable from the tenant.
  • Landlords should make arrangements to ensure that urgent repairs are undertaken and if such works cannot be undertaken, communicate with both the tenant and the local authority to agree what steps can/should be taken in the meantime to deal with any disrepair. Failure to do so can affect your ability to rely a notice under section 21 or section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 as your possession claim may be deemed to be a revenge eviction or the tenant may have grounds for a counterclaim against any claim for outstanding rent.

Whilst the motivation behind the extension is clearly the protection of tenants at risk of eviction due to the effects of Covid-19, the extension is causing a significant wave of distress for many Landlords around the UK where tenants are dishonestly taking advantage of the current ban on evictions.

Get expert Landlord & Tenant Law advice

If you are a landlord and require advice on dealing with a tenant, recovering arrears or evicting a tenant, contact David Sodimu, Landlord & Tenant Law specialist at Holmes & Hills Solicitors.  

Get Expert Legal Advice

Call 01376 320456 today and speak to David Sodimu, Landlord & Tenant Law specialist. 
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