Senior court official the Master of the Rolls say both ongoing and new eviction action will be stopped for 90 days, but this may be extended if the Coronavirus crisis lasts for longer.
All housing possession actions in the courts are to be suspended, it has been announced, including cases currently under way or about to go into the system, for the next 90 days
Revealed by the Master of the Rolls, who is the deputy to the Lord Chancellor, the announcement means no eviction proceedings can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted.
This is designed to bolster the government’s efforts to give hard-up tenants security of tenure during the Coronavirus crisis and follows the implementation yesterday of the government’s proposals to extend the eviction action ‘wait time’ to three months.
“Tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual,” the Ministry of Housing, Communication and Local Government says.
“If they face financial hardship and struggle to pay this, support is available. In the first instance they should speak to their landlord if they think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment, and in this unique context we would encourage tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme.”
But the government is also moving to formalise these tenants/landlord discussions by strengthening the requirement for social landlords to work with their tenants prior to action starting – known as ‘pre-action protocols’ – and extending it to the private rental sector
“This will help landlords and tenants to agree reasonable repayment plans where rent arrears may have arisen,” the MHCLG says.
Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action says: “This announcement comes as no surprise, last week we reported we had our first case at Blackpool county court citing the Corona Virus in the court order adjourning the case.
“Through these desperate times landlords will have to accept they will not be able to gain possession of their property until most probably the end of the year.
“Even before this announcement we were saying this to our clients at Landlord Action. The way forward for landlords is mediation with their tenants, payment plans or to negotiate vacate possession.
“But the reality is if you already have a case currently at court, all relationships may have already broken down with the tenant. We are currently putting a service together for landlords for mediation on a website on the next few days.”