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Evictions post 20 September 2020

Thursday 17 September 2020

The UK Government has published an updated form relating to property possession claims brought before 3 August 2020 that must be reactivated. These relate to claims already received by the court.

To reactivate a claim, the forms need to be re-completed and a reactivation notice sent to the court dealing with the case. However, they cannot be issued before 20 September 2020, which is when the extended date for the band on evictions ends.

Evictions that will be given priority include anti-social behaviour and extreme rent arrears of at least 12 months’ rent, or nine months’ rent if it is more than 25 per cent of a landlords’ total annual income from any source. Other exceptions include squatters, domestic violence, fraud, deception, illegal sub-letting, and abandonment of a property.

The update also reveals that landlords will have to make themselves available for telephone meetings with tenants and their representatives prior to court hearings to ‘prevent the determent of compromise’.

Reactivation notice

Courts capacity

A warning has been issued too, stating the court capacity during COVID-19 will be reduced. Propertymark wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on 14 September, urging the Government to adequately resource and amend the courts’ system. The ten new Nightingale courts recently introduced may not be enough to deal with the backlog and this will have a knock-on effect for agents and private landlords waiting to regain possession of their properties.

Possessions claims

Accelerated possession claims issued before 3 August 2020 will require a Reactivation Notice as with all other stayed claims. Landlords will be given an initial ‘review date’ for new and stayed claims of 21 days but 14 days beforehand, they should provide paper evidence in written or electronic form and then, on the review date, be available for a telephone conference with the tenant or their adviser, after which the court will make a decision about whether to proceed to a hearing.

Mediation

A new voluntary mediation pilot is to be conducted to facilitate a pre-hearing agreement between landlords and tenants too, which will be provided by an independent provider but jointly funded by the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

Updated procedure rules

Civil Procedure Rules 1998 Part 55to extend the existing stay on all possession proceedings and all enforcement proceedings by way of writ or warrant of possession were amended to come into force on 22 August. This will end on 20 September 2020 with the intention of avoiding any gap in the operation of the stay on possession proceedings and providing for a short extension to allow time for final preparations and procedural arrangements to be made for the resumption of possession cases in the courts.

Procedure rules