With the announcement that the country would be entering into a third lockdown, the inevitable question has been asked about the status of possession claims and evictions during this time.
Due to the suspension on possessions being lifted in September 2020 it has since been the case that new and existing possession claims can progress through the Court system, however, the story has been different for evictions. Although evictions were initially reinstated too, this was quickly halted a month later with the introduction of the tier systems and the second national lockdown when legislation was passed stating that no evictions could take place until after the 11th January 2021.
More new Regulations have now come into place from 11 January 2021 limiting the evictions that can take place during lockdown meaning that The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 are now in place until 21 February 2021 banning any evictions from taking place until after that date.
The exceptions in the latest rulings mirror those made previously and usually occur where the claim relates to one of the following:
- Illegal trespass or squatting
- Nuisance or antisocial behaviour
- Domestic abuse
- The tenancy obtained by fraud or deception
- Following the death of the tenant
- Substantial rent arrears – Under the new Regulations, “substantial rent arrears” is defined as at least 6 months’ rent, with no restriction on the arrears which can be considered, e.g., the 6 months arrears could have accrued at any time prior to, or even after, the first lockdown on 23 March 2020.
For the substantial rent arrears exception to apply, the order for possession must have been made on rent arrears grounds (in the case of assured shorthold tenancies, this would include Grounds 8, 10 or 11 to Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988).
The exception will not assist landlords whose possession orders were made on the no-fault ground for possessions set out in Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, but who are nonetheless owed substantial rent arrears by their tenants.
An extended ban on evictions was always going to be inevitable as the country goes into a further period of national lockdown, however this will no doubt come as another blow to residential landlords, some of whom will have been waiting months, even over year, for an eviction.
Whilst the widening of the substantial rent arrears exception may assist landlords owed at least 6 months’ rent where possession claims were granted on rent arrears grounds, we suspect that the reality is that we will see few evictions carried out between now and 21 February 2021, given the vast backlog of cases since the ban was first imposed almost 10 months ago.
It is inevitable that the same question will be asked again if the current lockdown is extended, Horizon Lets, your local property experts, will continue to bring you updates as and when they happen.
- Rent Reductions During Covid-19
- Rent Arrears & Debt Extension
- Right To Rent Checks
- 12 Months of Covid
- How An Agent Can Help You During Lockdown