Legal expert warns landlords that the eviction process faces a perfect storm after the pandemic ends, and to prepaer now rather than wait until restrictions are lifted.
Landlords who have a pressing need to evict tenants once the government’s Coronavirus evictions restrictions have been removed should get ready now, a leading legal expert has warned, and not wait.
Tim Frome, who is Legal Director of Landlord Action, says the evictions ban, the temporary shutting of the court system for landlords and the government’s promised changes to pre-action protocols will all create significant problems once the crisis is over.
Although landlords may be keen to help tenants who have struggled financially during the crisis or lost their jobs, there are many landlords who have problem tenants whose rent payments stopped before the crisis hit.
Once evictions can start again, landlords face extra delays to an already slow process. Those who are not prepared could face waiting for up to a year to get their properties back.
“Even if the system worked perfectly and landlords stuck to best practice, it can take up to seven months to go from a tenant defaulting on their rent to the bailiffs arriving, assuming they refused to vacate,” he says.
Frome says all too often landlords do not serve notice as soon as a tenant has defaulted on their second month’s rent payment. Therefore, tenants are often four to five months behind on their rent by the time Landlord Action issues a claim at court.
“It then takes four to eight weeks to get a hearing date, then between one week to 28 days for possession depending on the case and the tenants’ circumstances,” says Frome. “It then can take another two months to get the bailiffs in if they refuse to vacate.”
The government’s promised changes to pre-action protocols will further elongate the process, as it will require tenants and landlords to spend longer trying to agree a payment plan and trying out other solutions before going to court.
“For these reasons, landlords must be ready before the Coronavirus restrictions are relaxed or ended,” says Frome.