On Friday afternoon it was confirmed that the ban on possession proceedings in England and Wales will be extended until 20th September 2020.
The current pause, due to be lifted on 23 August 2020, has meant that no possession hearings or bailiff applications have been heard since mid-March.
Notice periodsThe Government confirmed it will also increase the notice periods for evictions to six-months (from the already increased three-months). This change will apply until at least the end of March 2021, although not to cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.
The Government stated that when the Courts re-open they will prioritise possession cases involving anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, or where the rent arrears are over 12 months..
It is yet to be seen how the changes will work as no draft legislation has been produced, despite the immediacy of the current deadline. Furthermore, it is yet to be seen how the proposed 6-month notice period will mesh with the fact the S.21 notices are only valid for 6-months.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, welcomed the decision by the government saying it clearly recognised the danger to tens of thousands of people. She added:
“People are still falling behind on their rent – 230,000 private tenants since March – leaving them vulnerable when the ban does end. And we all know even more economic storm clouds are gathering.”
“A bullet may have been dodged with this extension, but as soon as parliament returns it must give judges extra powers to stop renters being evicted because of ‘COVID arrears’. Facing eviction this Christmas is not a present anybody wants.”
Ben Beadle, CEO of the National Residential Landlords Association said: “A blanket extension is unacceptable, especially so close to the deadline. He added:
“An enormous amount of work as gone into finding a balance between supporting tenants who have been affected by the pandemic and preventing significant financial harm to landlords, in accordance with the Government’s promise. This announcement satisfies no-one.”
Pinney Talfourd are experts in residential property litigation and can advise you on changes to the law so you are given up to date advice.
This article was written by Oliver-James Topping, Solicitor in the Residential Property Litigation at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of August 2020.