The Department of Justice has confirmed to LandlordZONE that it has written to bailiff organisations to advise them that evictions will now NOT go ahead in Tier 2 and Tier 3 Covid restriction areas.

These include vast swathes of the country (full list) including all or large parts of London, Essex, Derbyshire, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Tees Valley, West Midlands, Nottinghamshire, Liverpool, Lancashire and both North and South Yorkshire.

“We would request that your members should instruct the enforcement agents working under their authorisation not to enter residential properties in areas that are classified as Local Alert Level 2 (high) or 3 (very high), for the purposes of enforcement, including taking control of goods and carrying out evictions,” it says.

Following this advice, some courts are now following suit and halting further evictions, as the government warned might happen in its guidance published last month.

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“Landlords and tenants will be notified of any changes in the progression of their case by the court. This measure will be in place for as long as local restrictions described above apply in an area,” it says.

For example, Barnet county court in North London yesterday said that, due to London’s new Tier 2 Covid status and the guidance to bailiffs, evictions would be halted.

High Court writs

But somewhat bizarrely, writs of control issued by the High Court can be enforced, and bailiffs are now using these in some cases, although they are more expensive to access.

These problems, together with the Christmas evictions moratorium already announced by the government last month, mean landlords in Tier 2 and 3 areas will now have to wait until the New Year before they can proceed.

The first indications that Tier 2 and 3 restrictions were stopping evictions came a few days ago from Dartford County Court, which has been telling solicitors that evictions ‘will not go ahead due to Covid restrictions’.

And as we reported earlier this week, even tenants outside Tier 2 & 3 areas are now able to halt evictions relatively easily by claiming – but not having to prove – that they have Covid.

“Bailiffs have already been given protocols to follow when carrying out evictions where they are allowed and even they can be challenging to stick to, but what is also very challenging is that thousands of landlords face rent arrears of a year or more,” says Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action.

“Just as they thought they were approaching the final hurdle, these new restrictions are going to be a severe blow.”

Shamplina points out that since the courts re-opened for hearings on September 21st, this means landlords in Tier 2 and 3 areas will have had only a six-week window to evict.

Read official guidance on Tier 2 (high) and Tier 3 (very high) restrictions.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe landlords will need to keep their tenants in place, but apply to the courts for deduction from tenants wages / benefits…?

  2. This is probably a better and more balanced solution than the unlawful and controversial eviction ban introduced in March and extended in June and Aug. At least landlords can have a repossession order but only awaiting to be actioned by bailiffs. It will also help wise tenants to recognise that they probably should relocate when they can and be safe to do so rather than awaiting for a bailiff.

  3. What happens when a lender wishes to repossess?

    This probably because feckless rent defaulting tenants they won’t have the resources to service the mortgage.

    Can lenders repossess quicker than LL and are lenders subject to the eviction ban.

    This latest ban is simply the end.

    Just can’t see many LL coping.

    • My understanding is that the law makes it easier for a mortgage lender to gain possession, than a landlord.
      The benefit of this being less risk for mortgage lenders, hence lower interest rates for borrowers.
      This can result in the situation where the mortgage lender takes possession with the tenants still in place.

      We don’t have any mortgages on our properties, so I may be misinformed.

  4. Landlords can submit a money claim online for rent arrears and if this is passing the £5000 limit, it can go to the High Court to request a writ of control which is not banned. I assume this will ensure that the maximum rent arrears that can accumulate is £5000 under the recent ban announced today.

  5. No use being a landlord going to sell up. No support from the government losing 000’s a month. Will have to evict 30 families as soon as possible or the banks will evict them.

    • How long will it take you to evict your tenants, if the courts are shut and/or backlogged and the bailiffs are not working?
      I thought the mortgage lenders were allowing suspension of mortgage repayment, so why would the banks want to evict or repossess?

  6. This nonsense will have to be challenged in court, especially for those of us who had reached the point of a possession order or warrant of possession, we are being denied our legal right to possession of our property, especially those with P.O’s for rent arrears.

    • Are the changes to evictions and bailiffs not included in the government’s new Covid law? Can the courts over rule a law passed by parliament?
      I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m assuming it would have to be a high level legal challenge, to the Supreme Court etc?

  7. The government will shoot themselves in the foot with the way they are treating LL’s…many will be forced to sell up or will not want the horrendous stress any longer. Thousands of private LL’s will leave the rental market, leaving the local authorities with an even bigger problem than they have already got with housing. This will all end very badly unless the government start to see sense and very soon! They actually NEED private LL’s so they should start thinking about that very quickly!

    • When a private landlord sells a property, that property is not usually demolished.
      It is usually bought by either another landlord or an owner occupier.
      If a landlord buys the property, he will let out to tenants. Therefore, no net change in the ratio of properties to tenants.

      If an owner occupier buys the property, that owner occupier may well be a previous tenant. So no net change in the ratio.

      If the house is bought by someone who was already an owner occupier elsewhere, then that buyer’s previous property is now free for a tenant. So again, no net change.

      The only way housing shortages will occur is if:
      The property is demolished and not replaced.
      The property is bought as a second home or just kept empty.
      More households are formed in the country (e.g. by divorce, immigration, increased births to deaths ratio, etc).

      • Completely incorrect as a Government study first omitted, then realised/corrected shortly afterwards. The most likely buyers are recent divorcees or those FTBs that have been residing at their parents. Neither show up in the net figure for current tenants, yet reduce the available rental stock.

        Your demolition argument is that of Shelter’s simplistic (and incorrect) view.

        • The divorced people and young adults you mention, are examples of new household formation.
          This represents increased demand for properties.

          Who owns the current stock of properties (landlords or owner occupiers) makes no difference to the supply/demand ratio.

          • When I evict all my HMO tenants and sell the house to a family then there are no new households created but the rental demand increases.

  8. It seems to be a blanket ban on possession even if you started court proceeding last year, well before Covid-19 happened. It is unfair for courts to stop repossession or giving judgement on court cases that started well before Covid-19.
    I can understand cases that started in March onwards should have the stop.

    My court application started last Oct, I had initial hearing Nov and another in Jan then had to have the full hearing in July. The judge said case had to be stayed because of new Ruling and if i wish to continue I have to Reactivate the case. I later found out if i wish to continue i have to give 42 days notice and had to be done i think by Jan next year. If you miss that deadline then you have to start fresh proceedings. I’m owed well over £5k not to mention property disrepair which is going to cost 000′.

    Are the judges on furlong too!

    • I know personally of many landlords in your position. Tenants have just stopped paying. None of the tenants are damaging the properties though. I don’t see why they would. Some tenants may be trying to build up a cash reserve for impending redundancy. Some may be unable, or less able to pay. Some may just be trying their luck to take advantage of the situation. Some may be a mixture of all three.

      Reading other property forums, it is interesting how FEW landlords seem to have encountered tenants not paying rent. The online forums paint a very different picture to my personal experience.

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