COVID-19 and Possession Claims
The whole of the UK has been making swift and radical changes due to the outbreak of Covid-19. It has changed the way in which we work and live, and it is important that we comply with the Government’s advice. You may be asking what this means for you, if you have a current court case or possession proceedings.
On the 18thMarch 2020 the Government announced emergency legislation which would:
- Stop any new possession claims (social and private tenancies) begin issued at the court for the next three months.
- Any current possession claims that have been issued are to be stayed, and are to be picked up again in 3 months’ time.
- A new pre-action protocol for possession claims, to apply after three months which will apply to private as well as social tenancies to help support the necessary engagement between landlords and tenants, to help resolve disputes. Landlords should be reaching out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in.
Rent Possession Claims
This has now been released by the Government, and alters the period of notice to three months under Section 21 notices. This is to be up until 30thSeptember 2020. This means if you are a tenant seeking possession, the notice period is now three months instead of one, whatever the grounds or reasons are for you seeking possession.
The overall advice from the Court on these matters are that warrants, injunctions and committals should be suspended. All judges need to have the public health guidance in mind when ordering possession proceedings and should not make an order that will impact anyone’s health.
The Court have also advised that injunctions and committal hearings are not suitable for phone hearings but prior engagement can be handled via emails or telephone. There is a lack of guidance on this area of law, but the main advice is for judges to be wary of government guidance and to postpone cases where they can.
The overall guidance is to avoid court wherever possible and be sensible and pragmatic. The Court are advising to provide alternative arrangements wherever possible and minimise attendance at Court. Therefore, if you have an upcoming Court hearing, this may be adjourned or arranged for over the phone. If you have current possession proceedings, they are being stayed for 3 month’s time and if you wish to start new possession proceedings you must give your tenant 3 month’s notice.