UPDATED 5 NOVEMBER 2020
With the country under a new set of national restrictions commonly being called Lockdown 2.0, there are more changes to how warrants for possession of a property are executed. But landlords and residents can rest assured that in the worst cases of anti-social behaviour, possessions can still be progressed.
After the stay on possession proceedings and ban on evictions was lifted on 23 August 2020 which is covered in the earlier article Light at the end of the tunnel on possession claims, things slowly started moving through the court system.
The Government then announced a ‘winter truce’ on evictions which meant bailiffs were unable to carry out any evictions from 11 December 2020 to 11 January 2021.
For those landlords who had possession orders in place prior to the lockdown in March, it was key to ensure an eviction date was set before the ‘winter truce’ came into force.
We then saw the Government introduce a tiered system, which meant that any area which was in a tier 2 or 3 meant that evictions could not be carried out.
We now see a further change which again impacts on how warrants are executed. As of 5 November 2020, all evictions are put on hold until 11 January 2021, effectively bringing the ‘winter truce’ forward. However, this time around there isn’t a blanket ban on evictions and if a possession order has already been granted then the following exceptions apply;
- Following a claim against trespassers to which rule 55.6 (services of claims against trespassers) of the Civil Procedure Rules 1988 applies;
- Under section 84A of the Housing Act 1985;
- On Ground 2, Ground 2A or Ground 5 in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1985;
- On Ground 7A, Ground 14, Ground 14A or Ground 17 in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988;
- Under case 2 of Schedule 15 to the Rent Act 1977; or
- On Ground 7 in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988 and where the person attending is satisfied that the dwelling house is unoccupied at the time of attendance
The above criteria was set out in a letter by RT HON Robert Buckland QC MP.
The criteria this time around allow landlords to continue to apply for warrants of possession for the most extreme cases which involve severe anti-social behaviour, illegal trespassing or squatting by persons unknown in a property along with domestic abuse. This will also offer neighbouring residents who have had to face ongoing anti-social behaviour and nuisance, some welcome respite whilst the country is under further national restrictions. This will subsequently allow both private and social landlords to gain possession of their properties in order to house those on waiting lists and in need of accommodation during the pandemic.
There is also the possibility that the Government intends to introduce an exemption on cases which involve extreme pre-COVID-19 rent arrears which would be added to the list above. Further details about this will be published when they are made available.
For further information contact Habib Khan in our housing management team, who can guide, help support and you and your teams to deal with any housing management and litigation issues you face during these evolving times.
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