The Coronavirus Act 2020, which came into force on 25 March 2020, offers limited protection to tenants, by extending the required notice period for eviction notices to three months. In and of itself, this would have left many tenants in a vulnerable position. For example, if a landlord had served an eviction notice which expired on 24 March 2020, the new legislation would not stop the landlord from issuing new possession proceedings and obtaining a possession order, despite COVID-19.
However, the Courts have gone one step further to protect tenants during this unprecedented time. Under a new Practice Direction, the Courts have stayed all possession claims for 90 days from 27 March 2020. This means that no tenants can be evicted until 25 June 2020 at present, although that depends on how the pandemic develops and whether any further lockdowns are required.
What does this mean for landlords? It means that, in addition to the usual hurdles, and until 25 June 2020 at present, landlords:
• Cannot obtain a Court order evicting a tenant;
• Cannot instruct bailiffs to enforce a Court order they obtained before the stay, and
• Will need to give tenants a notice period of at least 3 months, and
• Serve the up to date and recently amended eviction notices.
The above may seem like bad news for landlords, but it is essential for the wellbeing of many across the nation during this challenging time. Hopefully most landlords will be able to obtain a mortgage holiday for the 3 month stay period.
The full impact of COVID-19 on landlords and tenants alike remains to be seen, but for now landlords should agree realistic payment plans with tenants whose income has been reduced as a result of the pandemic.
If you are confused about what steps you can take during this challenging time for the nation, please don’t hesitate to contact Bell Lax on 0121 355 0011 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.