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Corona Virus – changes to possession

The Government has announced a series of changes and restrictions on landlords regaining possession of their property during the coronavirus pandemic. Legislation is in draft form at the moment and is expected to pass into law on Friday 27 March 2020.

The main change to possession are:

  • Notice periods for all notices, including Section 8 notices and Section 21 notices, are to be extended to three months until 30 September 2020. This notice period may be extended to six months in the future.
  • Possession proceedings can still be brought on notices already served when they expire. It is not clear at the moment how the court will treat any new possession claims. Different courts in different areas appear to be taking different approaches. The majority of courts appear to be adjourning possession hearings at the moment.
  • Evictions – again the approach to granting warrants of possession and eviction appointment varies by area. Generally it is looking unlikely that any tenants who remain in properties will be evicted by court bailiffs over the next three months.
  • Landlords will be expected to abide by the pre-action protocols for social landlords in the future although it is not clear from what date this will apply. This means that landlords will be required to complete certain additional steps before bringing possession claims based on rent arrears. These include contacting the tenant before serving any notice based on rent arrears to discuss the cause of the arrears, the tenant’s financial circumstances, the tenant’s entitlement to benefits and repayment of the arrears. The landlord must try and agree a payment plan with the tenant. The landlord must do the same before issuing proceedings. Full text of the Protocol is available at https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/protocol/pre-action-protocol-for-possession-claims-by-social-landlords

We will continue to monitor the situation with regards to possession claims as it develops and will be able to advise you on what steps you can take to regain possession of your property.

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Alex Cook

Alex initially trained as a Barrister (non-practicing) before cross-qualifying as a specialist commercial and property litigation solicitor. Prior to becoming joint owner of Helix Law in 2013, he was Head of Litigation and one of the youngest partners in the region in a large firm based in Eastbourne. Read more.