Possession Proceedings suspended
On 27th March 2020, a practice direction came into force which stayed (suspended) all possession proceedings for a period of three months from that date. This has now been extended until the 23rd August 2020.
The stay does not apply to claims against trespasses or applications for interim possession orders (a claim against squatters). Furthermore, parties to proceedings can still apply to the court for case management directions when all directions are agreed by the parties.
The stay applies to residential tenancies and also, in some circumstances, to commercial tenancies. Where a commercial tenancy is being renewed under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (LTA 1954), the stay will not apply. However, it will apply to commercial tenancies where the contractual lease has come to an end and:
1. The lease is contracted out of the LTA 1954
2. The lease is not contracted out of the LTA 1954 but the tenant does not satisfy the criteria for a new lease; or
3. The lease is not contracted out of the LTA 1954 and a section 25 notice or section 26 notice has been served, but neither party has made a lease renewal application to court within the requisite time limits.
This provides substantial protection for all tenants during this period of crisis.
Landlords who have commenced proceedings for possession prior to the 27th March 2020 will be affected by this stay even if the reason for eviction has nothing to do with the Covid crisis.
In addition to this, the period for serving notice on residential tenants has been extended from the usual two months, under the non-fault based procedure (section 21 notice), to three months. All fault-based notices have also been extended to be no less than three months.
In practice this means that landlords and tenants need to ensure that they are talking to one another about any issues at the property and to try and resolve them between themselves.
If a non-payment of rent is causing the landlord an issue in relation to any mortgage, they should look to talk to their mortgage company about the possibility of a mortgage holiday.
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The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.