The UK Government has extended the date from which possession proceedings can re-commence. Though they originally set the date for the end of June, it has now been pushed back by 2 months to the end of August.
This means courts will not be open to process any possession claims before the end of August 2020.
In the meantime, landlords who were already at the stage of taking their tenants to court for possession on the grounds of rent arrears back in March when lockdown began will have been waiting a catastrophic 5 months to regain control of their properties – with no rent coming in.
What is the Eviction Ban?
In the week leading up to the coronavirus lockdown, the Government announced that all tenants would be protected from eviction for the foreseeable future. The idea was that no one should become homeless during the pandemic. But the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into play on the 26th March and allowed for Section 21 and Section 8 Notices to be used again, though with notice periods for both extended to 3 months.
The Act also imposed a suspension on all active notices too, with the courts essentially closed for 3 months until the end of June. It is this date that has been extended, and it means that the courts will still closed for another 2 months, until the end of August.
The Act is currently in place until 30th September (2020), but this date could be extended, too.
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC MP, said: “Protecting vulnerable people has been our priority throughout this pandemic. Extending this ban will give people invaluable security in these turbulent times and work continues at pace to ensure vulnerable renters remain protected long after the ban ends.”
Huge Backlog of Eviction Cases
The backlog of cases the courts will have to process once they reopen is likely to be huge. Therefore, we are expecting there to be delays in the issuing of hearing dates. This delay will have a knock-on effect on landlord waiting to regain legal possession of their properties.
What are the New Notice Periods?
Prior to lockdown, a Section 8 Notice had a notice period of 14 days, and a Section 21 Notice had a notice period of 2 months. Currently, both notices have a notice period of 3 months.
Unless a tenant leaves willingly at the end of the notice, a court order will be required for you to regain possession.
Similarly, if your tenant defaults on rental payments, the same timescales for possession will apply.
If you require your property back for whatever reason and need to serve a notice to your tenant during this time and you are unsure of the best way to proceed, please schedule a call with one of my letting experts at your earliest convenience.