Over-stretched bailiffs and slower court processes will prevent the predicted evictions tsunami says a leading property lawyer.

As the eviction ban ends, David Smith, partner at JMW Solicitors, explains that while landlords can in principle now apply for eviction warrants, it’s doubtful that this will result in a massive burst of cases.

“The reality is that the county court bailiffs simply do not have the capacity to do much more than they were doing pre-Covid and so I do not expect them to be doing many more evictions than they were before the pandemic,” says Smith.

He says that although priority will be given to anti-social behaviour and fraud cases, there will also be an element of first-come, first-served.

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Smith tells LandlordZONE that the new ways of working – with review and substantive hearings – have created a longer court process that may still be in place at the end of the year.

Out of court

He says other measures are also having an impact. Adds Smith: “There’s a general push towards settling more cases out of court, while Breathing Space regulations are being used by some tenants and a number of local authorities are pushing hard to try and resolve situations by setting up hotlines.”

The National Residential Landlords Association says it continues to encourage landlords to work constructively with tenants affected by the pandemic.

A spokesman adds: “The mediation pilot scheme also provides a less expensive route to resolve disputes and keep pressure off the courts.

“That said, as we emerge from lockdown, we urge the courts to ensure that legitimate possession cases can be heard in a timelier fashion. This should include making greater use of video technology to hear cases.”

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