Court action on housing possession cases during the Corona virus outbreak

01 April 2020  |  Admin  |  0 Comments

Guidance from the Ministry of Housing, communities & Local Government for Landlords and Tenants (note these are non-statutory). 

Court action on housing possession cases during the coronavirus outbreak. 

In addition to the measures in the Coronavirus Act 2020 set out above, the Master of the Rolls, with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor, has issued a Practice Direction to stop possession claims from progressing.

• The suspension will apply for 90 days from 27th March 2020, to all housing possessions proceedings in the rented, leasehold and home ownership sectors.

• This action is in line with public health advice, which has advised against non-essential movement in response to coronavirus.

What does this mean for landlords and tenants in the private or social rented sectors?

• If you have already been issued with notice of your landlord’s intention to seek possession of the property, or if you are issued notice in the next 90 days, your landlord will not be able to take action through the courts to make you move. This suspension will initially apply for 90 days from the 27th March.

• For landlords, this will mean not expecting tenants to move even where you have already issued notice of your intention to regain possession of the property, or if you go on to issue notice for any reason during the next three months.

Who is covered by the suspension of housing possession cases?
• All tenants and licensees who benefit from protection from eviction under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 will be protected from possession proceedings by this measure.

• This includes most tenants in social housing and the private rented sector and some licensees. Lodgings, holiday lets, hostel accommodation and accommodation for asylum seekers are excluded from those protections.

Other housing possession cases
• All housing possession orders covered by Civil Procedure Rules Part 55 will be covered.

• The suspension of housing possession cases will also apply to possession cases brought by mortgagees against homeowners, and to possession cases brought by landlords against leaseholders (forfeiture).

• If you are unsure what kind of tenancy you have and whether you will be protected by the suspension on notice periods, you should take independent legal advice. Shelter’s housing advice line and Citizens’ Advice may be able to help.

How does the Coronavirus Act 2020 interact with the courts suspending housing possession claims?

• The decision taken by the Master of the Rolls means that housing possession claims in the court system will be postponed, this means landlords will not be able to progress any claims where they have already issued a notice seeking possession for a 90 day period (subject to review).

• This new measure applies to cases currently in progress and cases where a landlord or mortgage company has already commenced possession proceedings on expiry of a notice seeking possession.

• A tenant issued with a three-month notice immediately after the Coronavirus Act 2020 comes into force would see that notice expire in three months. At the expiry of the notice, a landlord who wanted to take the next steps in progressing the possession claim would have to apply to the courts for a possession hearing, a process that ordinarily takes 6-8 weeks, and may take much longer under the current circumstances.

• The legislation covering notice periods is in force until 30 September 2020 and is subject to review and may be extended by secondary legislation.

• The suspension of housing possession cases is by a Practice Direction under the Civil Procedure Rules. The practice direction will suspend possession proceedings under Part 55 of the Procedure Rules for 90 days from 27th March.

To download the full guidance for landlords and tenants click here