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Legal Brief: Coronavirus and Residential Possession Claims Update

View profile for Aimee Herbert
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NB: This is an update following our article of 9 April 2020, which can be found here.

Although the lockdown has eased and many people have returned to work and restaurants will shortly be opening, the law on evicting tenants is far from back to normal.

In normal circumstances, Landlords can find themselves having to jump through a number of hurdles in order to obtain possession. Now, many Landlords are struggling with cash flow issues, and constantly changing laws as to what they can and cannot do.

Since our previous article, the Court has amended the “Practice Direction” to the Civil Procedure Rules which stayed all possession claims, and the relevant provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 remain in force.

The Court of Appeal also decided a challenge to the current stay on possession claims in the case of Arkin v Marshall & Anr.

What does all this mean for landlords?

In summary:

  1. Landlords must still give three months’ notice if they want to evict an assured shorthold tenant using the Section 8 or Section 21 procedures. The requirement to do so is currently going to be in place until 30 September 2020, but the Government could extend this again;

 

  1. The stay on possession claims has been extended until 23 August 2020 at present. This means the Court is not going to grant Landlords possession of residential properties or progress possession claims until after the stay is lifted at the end of August 2020. Again, that could be extended;

 

  1. Landlords can still issue claims for possession but those claims will be automatically stayed;

 

  1. The parties to any possession claims can agree to follow directions if they so choose, but the Court is unlikely to force them to whilst the stay is in place, and there are no sanctions for breaches of such agreements;

 

  1. Neither the stay on possession claims nor the current requirement to give three months’ notice invalidates notices which had already expired before the legislation came into force on 26 March 2020; and,

 

  1. Landlord’s repairing obligations are unchanged. If you have any doubt as to your repairing obligations, you should review the relevant assured shorthold tenancy agreement and seek legal advice.

 

 

If you are confused about what steps you can take as a landlord during this continually challenging time for the nation, please don’t hesitate to contact  Aimee Herbert on 0121 355 0011 or via disputes@belllax.com.

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