Nearly 6 months has past since 27th March 2020 when the hearings for property possessions were suspended or given a ‘stay’. Initially it was until 25th June, then 24th August and now from the 20th September they are back open. Its not great news and plain sailing for everyone though as they are filtering through the ‘priority’ cases. These are primarily the severe rent arrears, criminal damage and domestic abuse cases.
It doesn’t rule out a further extension on the cases being ceased or the date being extended again but does mean some landlords might be able to proceed.
What does it mean if I have a case going through: –
If you have an ongoing claim and possession proceedings have been started, a re-activation notice will need serving on all relevant claims to ensure they are guaranteed and all paperwork is on order. Your rent protection insurances providers or solicitors should do this on your behalf. Claims brought before 3 August 2020 will not be listed, relisted or referred to a Judge until a party files and serves a “Reactivation Notice” confirming that they wish the case to proceed. If you need a copy of the reactivation Notice please refer to the Court Service.
If you tenant has not being paying their rent and you have a mortgage, On 2 June 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that borrowers can apply for an extension to any holiday already taken while extending the window for new applications to 31 October 2020. The mortgage payment holiday is not automatic, and landlords would need to apply to their lender to see whether they are eligible for this support on a case by case basis.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 protects most tenants and secure licensees in the private and social rented sectors by putting measures in place that say that, in most cases, before starting court action landlords are required to give extended notice of intention to seek possession to their tenants. For notices issued between 26 March to 28 August 2020, the required notice period was three months.
For notices in relation to anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, rioting and false statement, the required notice periods have returned to their pre-Coronavirus Act 2020 lengths. In some cases, this means that proceedings for anti-social behaviour can be brought immediately after notice has been served. Notice periods on these grounds otherwise vary, depending on the type of tenancy and ground used, between two weeks and one month.
Where at least six months of rent is unpaid, a minimum four-week notice period will be required. If less than six months of rent is unpaid, then the notice period is six months.
A six-month notice period is required for all other grounds, including Section 21 notices and, as highlighted earlier, where accrued rent arrears are less than the value of six months’ rent.
At the expiry of the notice period, a landlord cannot force a tenant to leave their home without a court order. When the notice period expires, a landlord would need to take court action if the tenant was unable to move.