Skip to main content

Government Announce the Extension of the Possession Proceedings Suspension

Courts were due to resume hearing ‘possession cases’ as of Monday 24th August; however, the Government have suspended this by a further 4-week period to Sunday 20th September 2020, whilst introducing new requirements for Landlords. Our latest blog explains the new announcements and what this means for both Landlords and Tenants.

Government Announce the Extension of the Possession Proceedings Suspension

The eviction ban in England and Wales was originally announced in March 2020, and it was initially due to end on Monday 24th August. On Friday 21st August, the Government announced a four-week extension to the eviction ban. This is the second time the ban has been extended and under the new extension, the ban is now proposed to be lifted on 20th September.

The extension means that Tenants in England and Wales will have been safe from eviction for the last six months as there have been no evictions, even in cases where Tenants have accumulated significant rent arrears, or where Tenants have exercised anti-social behavior, disruption, or caused problems with neighbours and/or housemates.

Alongside the extension, it has been confirmed that as of 29th August 2020 a new six-month notice period will be in place until 31st March 2021. This means that where a Landlord wishes to evict a Tenant, they must provide the Tenant with 6 months’ notice, by serving either a Section 8 or 21 Notice, before applying to the Court for an Order for the Tenant to give up possession. Any notices served on or before 28th August 2020 remain to have a 3-month notice period. Originally, the notice period, dependent upon the reasoning for bringing the tenancy to an end, varied from 2 weeks to 3 months. This movement aims to provide Tenants with greater stability and protection by relieving them of the immediate threat of eviction, particularly in the winter months. Research has shown that the majority of Landlords have supported Tenants throughout the past few months, with 8% of Landlords reducing rent payments.

In order to help Landlords, the Government will be allowing exceptions to the six-month notice period. This is welcome news to Landlords as it provides hope that in exceptional situations, they will be able to gain repossession of their property without having to wait at least 6 months. They have stated that the 6 months’ notice period will not be applicable in the worst cases, for which new notice periods have been distinguished, which are:

  • anti-social behavior (now 4 weeks’ notice)
  • domestic abuse (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
  • false statement (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
  • over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (now 4 weeks’ notice)
  • breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (now 3 months’ notice)

It has been advised that the ban should be extended for as long as it takes to accumulate a credible plan to provide security to Tenants and support for Landlords. The Government must use this time to develop a long-term legislative solution to prevent further unsustainable extensions.

The buy-to-let sector has remained positive through the previous months with 95% of Tenants making full payments for their rent or arranging payment agreements with their Landlords. Research shows that 87% of Landlords have received full payment of rent with no issues which shows that the majority of Landlords and Tenants are working constructively to support one another.

When the Courts finally re-open to hear repossession cases on the newly proposed date of 21st September, cases will be prioritised based on their level of severity. Landlords facing issues including antisocial behavior, domestic abuse, criminal behavior or extreme rent arrears will be classified as high priority. This means that evictions of other natures may be subject to longer waiting times. If a Landlord wishes to evict a Tenant, they are required to follow a series of steps to repossess their property lawfully. If the eviction is made unlawfully, the Tenant can appeal against the eviction. To ensure that you are lawfully evicting your Tenant it is important to seek legal advice at the outset from our expert Landlord and Tenant Lawyers who can guide you through the process from start to finish.

If you are struggling to pay your rent, we recommend that you speak to your Landlord to distinguish whether you can arrange a repayment plan to pay off your arrears. You should also consider whether you are eligible for a discretionary housing payment from your local council. If a possession order was made against you before 27th March 2020, your Landlord may apply for this to be enforced when the eviction ban comes to an end. In such cases, you should receive two weeks’ notice of your eviction date. If you are worried about being evicted when the ban is lifted, or if you are a Landlord seeking legal advice regarding your rights and responsibilities, our team of Lawyers are on hand to assist you. Our Landlord & Tenant Lawyers are specialists in providing Landlords and Tenants with the legal support they require whether the property in question is based in the East Midlands, or rural Lincolnshire to include Skegness, Boston, Louth, Grimsby, or Lincoln. For expert legal advice get in touch by calling us on 01754 897150 or submit a contact form to request a call back.