Coronavirus and the impact on residential possession proceedings

The Coronavirus Act 2020 ( CA 2020) is emergency legislation brought in by the Government to help the Country combat the Coronavirus pandemic that we are now all facing.

 

CA 2020 and residential possession proceedings

The CA 2020 includes a raft of provisions covering many topics but of particular interest to us are those provisions in respect of residential possession proceedings.

Schedule 29 of the CA sets out restrictions on possession proceedings relating to tenancies under Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988 but it is not clear how this legislation relates to the forfeiture of long residential leases.

We deal with possession proceedings on a daily basis and we are already finding that Court’s are somewhat confused by the legislation and its application to forfeiture. While arguably the CA may not apply to forfeiture, Courts are taking the view that this lack of clarity means that that should not be granting possession orders in forfeiture proceedings. The Courts it seems have placed their own moratorium on such proceedings.

 

From 27 March 2020 (and the introduction of Practice Direction 51Z)

On 27th March, it was announced that The Master of the Rolls and Lord Chancellor intended to suspend all ongoing housing possession cases in the County Court.

This announcement was closely followed by the introduction of Practice Direction 51Z.

The main changes brought about by the new Practice Direction are:

  • all proceedings for housing possession (brought under CPR 55) are stayed for 90 days
  • all proceedings to enforce an order for possession by warrant or writ are stayed for 90 days

No possession claims that have been issued will progress and no new claims will be issued to allow the cases to progress to the point whereby someone is evicted. This suspension has been put in place for 90 days with the ability to extend the period if needed. The Practice Direction ceases to have effect on 30th October 2020.

 

Commentary

Where cases are already in the system we anticipate adjournments being granted for at least 90 days and that new cases will be listed for after the 90 day suspension period.

The 90 day period could of course be extended, so it’s important to keep checking for regular updates as so much is changing on a daily basis.

 

30 March 2020

Liz Rowen

With over 10 years specialist property management litigation experience, Liz has accrued a wealth of knowledge and experience in all things property management.

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