Landlords of residential properties were left feeling aggrieved and thumping their fists on the table following the announcement by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP on 21 August 2020 that the stay on possession proceedings, due to be lifted on Sunday 23 August 2020, would be extended for a further 4 weeks and that “no renters will have been evicted for 6 months”.
The government’s official press release stated that “The government also intends to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March.”
The stay of possession proceedings was first introduced on 27 March 2020 by Practice Direction PD51Z, staying all proceedings brought under CPR Part 55 and enforcement of possession orders by warrant or writ of possession.
In August we wrote about the new Practice Direction (PD55C) introduced to deal with matters for an ‘interim period’ between 23 August 2020 and 28 March 2021 and which will cease to have effect after that period unless it is extended.
Since the announcement there has been an amendment to PD55C which now applies from 20 September 2020 to 28 March 2021, to new claims, within the definitions, being those issued on or after 19 September. It appears that claims brought on or after 23 August are still to be treated as new, not stayed, claims. The remainder of the Practice Direction remains unamended.
So the question is: what should landlords do in the interim?
Landlord will need to include in any new claim or in any Reactivation Notice any knowledge that they have as to the effect the pandemic has had on the tenant and their dependents. Landlords can now start engaging with their tenants and seek information such as:
The identity of the occupants currently residing in the premises.
What financial effect, if any, has the pandemic had upon the tenant?
What financial effect, if any, has the pandemic had upon the tenant’s household?
What effect, if any, has the pandemic had upon the tenant’s employment status and income?
Whether the pandemic has impacted any other occupant who contributes to the rent?
What effect, if any, has the pandemic had upon the tenant’s physical and mental health?
What effect, if any, has the pandemic had upon the physical and mental health of any member of the tenant’s household?
Whether the tenant has suffered any bereavement as a result of the pandemic?
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.
If you have any questions relating to this article or if you have any queries concerning possession proceedings or any other landlord and tenant concerns, please contact Darryn Harris on [email protected]