Legal Update: Eviction ban extended again
The Government in March 2020 introduced a stay on possession claims imposed by CPR 55.29 to support those affected by the Coronavirus. This stay was due to end on Sunday, 23 August 2020. However, on 21 August 2020, the Lord Chancellor directed the Master of the Rolls and the Civil Procedure Rules Committee to amend the rules and to extend the stay for another 4 weeks, to 20 September 2020.
Who will continue to benefit from the extension?
Private and social renters and those with mortgages and licences covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 will continue to benefit from this extension. Unfortunately, there will be some renters who will not be protected by the extension i.e. lodgers. A landlord can still evict lodgers by giving them reasonable notice period to vacate the property and then peacefully evict the lodger from the property without needing to obtain a Court possession order.
New 6-month notice period
Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick has also announced on 21 August 2020, that a new 6-month notice period is set to be in place until at least 31 March 2021. This is to offer tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice (in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators).
This now means that any landlord who wishes to evict a tenant who is protected by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 would need to give 6 months’ notice period to their tenant. This is due to be the case until at least 31 March 2021 when the Government may review the 6-month notice period. With the announcement of the 6-month notice period, it is not yet clear whether the Government intends to amend the current s.21 and s.8 notices to reflect the change. It is also not clear whether the Government intends to extend the period for landlords to apply to Court for a possession order upon the expiry of the section 21 notice. Currently landlords are required to apply to Court for a possession order within 6 months from the date of service.
The Master of the Rolls stated in his letter dated 21 August 2020 that, “..this 4-week extension to the stay relating to housing possession cases, will allow for further work to be done to prepare for the stay to be lifted”. With Parliament due to return on 1 September 2020, it will be very interesting to see what further work will be done to prepare for the stay to be lifted. Although this extension will be welcomed by many renting in the private rented sector or social sector this seems nothing more than a four-week blanket extension of the stay on all possession claims (save against trespassers). The National Residential Landlords Association CEO (Ben Beadle), has stated, “An enormous amount of work as gone into finding a balance between supporting tenants who have been affected by the pandemic and preventing significant financial harm to landlords, in accordance with the government’s promise. This announcement satisfies no one.”
The Government will need to come up with a plan which will be fair on both landlords and tenants and they will need to do so before the end of the current suspension to possession proceedings, which is now 20 September 2020.