Details emerge of Government measures on possession proceedings

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The Government has recently announced that even though possession proceedings will restart in the Courts on 21 September, bailiffs will not be allowed to execute possession warrants in areas which are under local lockdown.

In the same announcement, it was indicated that there will be a winter truce on evictions over the Christmas period. Evictions will be permitted to proceed only in the most serious cases, with ASB and domestic violence cases being cited as examples of circumstances in which evictions may go ahead. In reality, however, bailiff evictions have always been suspended over Christmas so this measure is nothing new.

A further announcement made on 10 September also confirms the details of some measures previously set out. In particular, once possession hearings start again, the Court intends to prioritise ASB cases and extreme rent arrears where landlords would otherwise face unmanageable debts.

Cases dating from before 3 August 2020 will immediately proceed to hearing. These must be ‘reactivated’ by the landlord and are then subject to a new review hearing to be held at least four weeks before the substantive hearing – so there would appear to be two hearings required in order to obtain possession in these cases.

The Government has also confirmed that landlords will need to provide the Courts and Judges with information on how tenants have been affected by the pandemic. Where this information is not provided, Judges will be able to adjourn proceedings until it is given.