As part of its response to the Covid-19 crisis, the government suspended evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the lockdown period. The government's intention was to ensure that no one would be evicted from their home in summer 2020 due to coronavirus.
Whilst much has been written about the effect on tenants, there have been suggestions in the press that the moratorium on evictions will have caused hardship to some landlords who may not have received much, if any, rent during the period of suspension.
In its guidance the government states that:
'Where tenants do experience financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, the government is clear that landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant's individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort.'
It is currently unclear as to how the backlog of eviction cases will be handled by the courts. It may be necessary, for example, for landlords to contact the court with a reactivation notice if they commenced proceedings before the suspension of evictions was introduced. A landlord's case could be struck out if they fail to do this.
The government's comment about landlords and tenants working together is somewhat vague but it is fair to assume that landlords may have to detail their argument for possession more comprehensively than in the past and both landlords and tenants will be able to bring up any Coved related issues to be considered during the hearing.
This is a fast-moving area and even at the time of going to print it was announced that the moratorium on possession claims has been further extended from 23 August 2020 to 20 September 2020. Concerns have been raised by charities and other organisations that mass repossessions could result in significant homelessness. Accordingly, it is necessary for landlords wishing to regain possession of their property or tenants faced with an eviction notice to ensure that they obtain timely, specialist advice.
To discuss this or any other litigation matter, please contact us.