Residential tenancies and possession proceedings

  • Posted

The Government has announced an extension to the moratorium on residential possession claims to 23 August 2020. The moratorium, which has been in place since 27 March 2020, resulted in the automatic stay of all residential possession claims which had already been issued at Court, and also the stay of possession claims issued after 27 March. In these cases, the Court has been issuing and immediately staying the claim, usually without serving the Defendant with the papers.

The stay imposed by the moratorium applies to all possession claims, whether issued under s21 Housing Act 1988 or brought on grounds of rent arrears, anti-social behaviour or breach of tenancy.

The requirement introduced by the Coronavirus Act to serve 3 months’ notice before issuing proceedings based on section 21 or section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 remains unchanged.

For landlords in a position to issue proceedings, it may well be worth issuing now despite the stay that will be imposed by the Court. Section 21 notices have a 6-month shelf life from the date of service and some may be nearing the end of their shelf life, meaning that the landlord would have to serve a fresh notice giving 3 months’ notice, before issuing. Landlords who have served a section 8 notice on rent arrears or other grounds may also wish to consider issuing a possession claim now. In either case, although the claim will be stayed, the landlord will have reserved a place in the backlog of cases which can only get longer given the extension of the moratorium.