Four important changes when commencing residential possession proceedings after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

For many landlords and tenants, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented testing times which has encouraged both parties to adopt a cooperative approach to dealing with common landlord and tenant issues such as rent arrears. As landlords and tenants would be aware, the law has provided a “stay” (or a pause) to  possession proceedings and enforcement proceedings. This “stay” expires on 23 August 2020. Put simply, possession proceedings have ground to a halt to prevent evictions taking place during these difficult times. However, from 23 August 2020, existing and new possession proceedings and enforcement action will be able to take place subject to the following changes:

  1. A landlord who has already started possession proceedings (for example, before the stay on proceedings) will need to provide the tenant with a “reactivation notice” if they wish to continue the proceedings after the expiry of the stay. The “reactivation notice” will essentially inform the court and the tenant in writing of the landlord’s intention to resume proceedings.  If a landlord fails to provide a “reactivation notice” the case will remain dormant. Further information about the form and content of this “reactivation notice” will follow.
  2. Where the claim includes the non-payment of rent, the particulars of claim should set out what knowledge (if any) the landlord has as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the tenant or their dependants.
  3. The landlord is encouraged to produce a full rent arrears history in advance of the hearing rather than at the hearing.
  4. There will be a suspension on the standard period of time between the issue of a claim form and the hearing which would usually be not more than eight weeks. Therefore, the parties could be waiting a longer period of time for the possession hearing to be scheduled by the court.

These changes will remain in effect until at least 28 March 2021.

If you are either a landlord or tenant and would like assistance in relation to claiming or defending possession proceedings, please do not hesitate to contact Pranav Bhanot (pbhanot@meaby.co.uk) or Aileigh Brough (abrough@meaby.co.uk) at Meaby&Co Solicitors LLP.