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Covid-19 new changes which will effect Landlord’s possession claims

August 4th 2020
 

Natalie Tatton Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution Team provides an update.

The stay on issuing new and progressing existing possession proceedings has been extended until 23rd August 2020.

Lord Greenhalgh, the minister of state for housing, communities, and local government, revealed the date in the House of Lords. He said: “From 24 August 2020, the courts will begin to process possession cases again. This is an important step towards ending the lockdown and will protect landlords’ important rights to regain their property.

What does this mean for possession claims that have been issued and stayed prior to the 3 August 2020?

  • A landlord who wants to resume possession proceedings after the stay has been lifted must notify both the Court and the Defendant by serving what is referred to as a “reactivation notice”. If such a notice is not filed and served then the claim will not be progressed.
  • The notice must include information about how the pandemic has affected the tenant(s), the tenants’ family and their financial situation. This is to assist the Court in analysing the tenants’ vulnerability.  It may be the case that the landlord may not have the answers to these queries unfortunately, there is no guidance as to how you should ascertain these answers and obtaining such answers will depend on the relationship the landlord has with the tenant. Providing the landlord can evidence to the Court that they have taken all reasonable measures to ascertain the answers then this should be sufficient enough.
  • A backlog in the Courts is expected as there has been a restriction on possession proceedings. Therefore landlords can expect there to be further delay for their possession claim to be listed. Normally it takes around 6 weeks for a possession claim to be listed but this timeframe has been deferred.
  • The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) believes there could be a backlog of 60,000 cases. David Cox, ARLA chief executive, said: “We’re pleased to hear that from August 24, the Courts will re-open and begin processing the backlog of possession cases.

What does this mean for new possession claims that have been issued on or after the 23 August 2020 and stayed claims issued on or after 3 August 2020?

  • The Court will expect landlords to evidence compliance of the protocol for possession claims before issuing a claim. It is important that you obtain legal advice to ensure that you comply with the protocol.
  • A reactivation notice is not necessary, landlords are still obliged to inform the Court as to how the pandemic has effected the tenant(s) and their vulnerability.

If you require any in depth legal advice on any of the above issues then please do not hesitate to contact our Dispute Resolution Department on 01228 516666.

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