The message coming from the government on Covid-19 is that it is back to business and back to work, whilst following the government guidance on ‘’staying alert’’ for the pernicious and invisible coronavirus. However, in a move welcomed by tenant law solicitors, the government has extended its Covid-19 protection for renters for an additional two months. The protection was due to end on the 25 June 2020 and has been extended until the 23 August 2020.
If you need advice on possession proceedings or have questions about landlord and tenant law and your rights then the landlord and tenant team at OTS Solicitors can help you find a solution. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
Covid-19 and possession proceedings
The Covid-19 possession protection extension announced by the Housing Secretary means that landlords will be prevented from taking possession of rental property for up to five months, as the protective measures were first put in place in March 2020 and have now been extended until the 23 August 2020.
The Housing Secretary said:
"We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic… I am announcing that the government’s ban on evictions will be extended for another 2 months. That takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of 5 months.
Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus. We are also working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions proceedings do recommence, arrangements, including rules, are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding".
The two month extension applies to home owners, commercial and leasehold. The extension means that landlords won't be able to secure possession orders for rent arrears. Court action to enforce existing possession orders has also been suspended.
The government has reiterated that it hopes and expects that landlord and tenants will work together to try to sort out an agreement, for example, rental payment plans to catch up on rent arrears that have accrued because of loss of Employment due to Covid-19.
The government has also extended the mortgage holiday scheme to help landlords whose tenants are not paying rent or only paying a reduced rent because of Covid-19.
Landlord solicitors are thinking ahead and expressing concern about how the courts will cope when the extension period expires in August 2020 as there is a fear that the court will be inundated with possession claims as well as having to deal with a backlog of suspended possession proceedings. Court staff are looking into the best options to avoid significant court delays, with remote hearings conducted by phone or computer being suggested as one way forward. Tenant solicitors are concerned that not all tenants have access to a landlord and tenant solicitor for legal advice or access to the technology needed for a remote hearing.
Landlord and tenant solicitors recognise that there is a balance to be struck between the needs of the landlord and tenant in these unprecedented times and many landlords have recognised why the government felt driven to extend the Covid-19 concessions for tenants.
If you are a landlord and you want possession of a property there are still options available as the Coronavirus Act 2020 suspends possession proceedings for non-payment of rent rather than for breaching the terms of the covenants contained in a commercial lease. Likewise, for tenants, if you are not able to pay all of your rent you are still entitled to peaceful occupation of the rental property and your landlord should not be harassing you or trying to intimidate you into leaving by calling around to the property.
If you are unsure of your rights as either a landlord or tenant and securing possession of a property or have questions about landlord and tenant law then the landlord and tenant team at OTS Solicitors can help you find a solution. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
Posted on: Thursday, 02 July, 2020