Late on Friday there were some small changes made to the court rules. While this is a common process one of the changes was an extension to the new court procedures relating to possession claims.
These procedures are the ones requiring an additional paper-based consideration of every claim and also requiring notices to be served setting out what landlord know about the effects of Covid-19 on the tenant and their dependants.
These were due to come to an end on 28 March 2021 but will now last until 30 July 2021.
This was not a huge surprise as the courts have barely got to grips with the new process and things are only really just getting going.
Also, it is clear that we are only just starting to get to grips with the Covid-19 emergency in the UK and will not have a handle on it by the end of March. Indeed, the current lockdown is expected to run into early April at least.
Longer notice periods
It is worth noting that the original end date for the altered possession process coincided with the end date for longer notice periods for Housing Act 1988 tenancies.
It seems likely therefore that the longer notice periods are also going to be extended.
However, I would not necessarily expect the longer notice periods to last until the end of July as well.
In addition, I would expect the terms of any extension to be different. It may be that the notice periods will be a little shorter or that more gateways will exist to shorten notice periods from the standard figure of six months.
It is a little frustrating that this change was made late on a Friday with little time before it comes into effect.
It is starting to feel like the only certainty with Covid-19 related changes in the PRS is that they will be done on short notice just before a weekend.
David Smith is a partner at legal firm JMW Solicitors working within its commercial litigation department.