It hasn’t been widely reported in the press but the government has extended the ban on landlords evicting most residential tenants until the 11 January 2021. The previous ban on evictions was lifted on the 20 September 2020, leaving tenants feeling vulnerable to potential eviction. This was despite the fact that the government had encouraged landlords not to start possession proceedings or for bailiffs to enter residential tenanted properties whilst Covid-19 restrictions were in place. Landlord and tenant solicitors have welcomed the clarification and in this blog we explain what the statutory instrument means for landlords and tenants.
Landlord and tenant solicitors
For advice on rent arrears and possession proceedings and your rights as either a landlord or tenant or if you have questions about landlord and tenant law then call the landlord and tenant team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.
Possession proceedings ban
Secondary legislation (The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 – statutory instrument 2020 No.1290) was introduced on the 14 November 2020 banning most residential evictions in England until the 11 January 2021.
The previous ban on possession proceedings had formally ended on the 20 September 2020, without the government extending it despite the introduction of the three tier Covid-19 restrictions in England and the subsequent second ‘lockdown’.
In the explanatory memorandum to The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 statutory instrument 2020 No.1290, it is said that the further ban on evictions is to prevent the enforcement of evictions against residential tenants, other than in the most serious circumstances, during the mid-winter period to stop tenants being evicted at a time when accessing services because of Covid-19 related issues may be more difficult and when pressure on public services is at its most acute.
The new statutory instrument means no eviction notices are to be served until 11 January 2021. There is a fourteen day notice period and that means that in most cases the earliest that the eviction process can start or re-commence is the 25 January 2021.
The statutory instrument specifically protects most residential tenants by preventing their tenanted property being entered to:
- Execute a writ or warrant of possession or
- Execute a writ or warrant of restitution or
- Deliver a notice of eviction.
What possession cases are exempt from the repossession ban?
Landlord and tenant solicitors say that most residential tenancies are covered by the statutory instrument preventing residential evictions until the 11 January 2021 save for:
- Extreme rent arrears of nine months or more (however rent arrears that have occurred and accumulated since the 23 March 2020 are not taken into account when calculating if there are nine months of rent arrears)
- Anti-social behaviour
- Perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing.
What does the extended possession ban mean for you?
From a landlord‘s perspective the extended ban on possession proceedings for residential tenancies is bad news , though understandable given the second Covid-19 lockdown and Christmas, but the extended ban ignores the fact that many small time landlords rely on rental payments as their main source of income.
From a tenant’s perspective the news is very welcome and relieves some stress and anxiety over the Christmas period but some tenants are questioning how January will be any better for them in terms of their ability to pay their rent and pay off rent arrears. The positive news is that if you are a tenant whose landlord started eviction proceedings before the 3 August 2020 then your landlord must serve what is called a ‘reactivation notice’ to get the possession court proceedings re-started. If a landlord doesn’t take this step then the court won't action or relist the possession proceedings.
If a tenant receives a reactivation notice in January 2021 then it is important to take legal advice straight away to look at the best options, including whether the proceedings can be further delayed. In addition to serving a re-activation notice, if possession proceedings were started before the 3 August 2020 a landlord is also required to enter into a ‘pre-action protocol’. That means landlords need to attempt to reach an agreement with their tenants before issuing a possession claim and the landlord has to provide the court with information on what impact Covid-19 has had on their residential tenant.
It is again a question of ‘watch this space’ to see if the government further extends the possession ban on residential tenancies in January 2021 leading to ongoing uncertainty and worries for both landlords and tenants, especially with news reports that the country may well return to a type of Covid-19 tiered restriction system after the end of the second lockdown.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
If you are worried about potential possession proceedings or are concerned that possession proceedings may be restarted against you in the New Year or you are a landlord worried that with no rent coming in you won't be able to meet your buy to let mortgage commitments then it is best to take legal advice from our experienced and approachable landlord and tenant solicitors to look at your available options.
Landlord and tenant solicitors
For advice on possession proceedings or if you are unsure of your legal rights as either a landlord or tenant call the landlord and tenant team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.
Posted on: Friday, 20 November, 2020