Covid-19 and residential possession claims
The Housing Act 1998 is for the time being modified by the Coronavirus Act 2020 so that the usual s.8 and s.21 timescales are amended, requiring the landlord to give 3 months’ notice.
Possession claims can and perhaps should still be issued, notwithstanding that they will become stayed until 23/08/2020 (see below).
The changes are underpinned by amendment to the Civil Procedure Rules staying any possession proceedings brought before or up to 22/08/2020 until 23/08/2020 (and of course, this date may be extended again) unless proceedings are for:
(a) a claim against trespassers to which rule 55.6 applies;
(b) proceedings under Section III of this Part;
(c) an application for case management directions that are agreed by all the parties; or
(d) a claim for injunctive relief.
A possession claim may still be commenced but will become stayed until 23/08/2020 and the time for the tenant to respond will not start to run until 23/08/2020 (and possibly later still if the court doesn’t start to send possession proceedings to tenants until after 23/08/2020 – the defence will be due 14 days after the date that the tenant receives proceedings).
Notwithstanding the measures introduced by the Government to avoid a rise in homelessness during the Coronavirus pandemic, there appears to be a building momentum to return to the status quo. The starting point for a landlord may be to consider their objectives. Vacant possession, collection of rent arrears, that the tenant performs an obligation or desists from an action prohibited by the tenancy?
Whilst the usual procedure and remedies may not be so immediately available, if it is not possible to reach sensible agreement with a tenant or a pecunious tenant is playing the system, it may still be prudent to issue your s.21 or s.8 notice now and 3 months post to commence possession proceedings. Landlords may also wish to consider simultaneously issuing a claim for rent arrears or injunctive relief, which once the stay is lifted, could be amended to include a claim for possession.
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Julian is a Solicitor at Hadfield Bull & Bull.
Please contact 0208 301 0808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any business related matters with Julian.