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Problem tenants you are looking to evict? Landlords need to act quickly before ‘Winter Truce’ sets in

9th November 2020 by Byron Sims

Categories: Covid-19
Tags: , , , ,

With the pause (stay) having been lifted from claims for possession of residential property the courts now appear to be running with commendable speed and efficiency in relation to problem tenant cases that have been identified as a priority, including extreme rent arrears (which is generally between 9-12 months), antisocial behaviour and domestic violence.

If you had started a claim during the stay, there are certain requirements with which you must comply if you wish your claim to continue. There are also added requirements to keep in mind for new claims.

I started a claim which was stayed, what do I do now?

For claims which were issued by the court before 3 August 2020, you will need to file a reactivation notice. This must set out certain details, most importantly what effects the pandemic has had on the defendant (i.e. the tenant). The claimant (usually the landlord) is not obligated to actively seek out information, but it is likely to be looked on favourably by the court if they do.

Use the reactivation notice form and guidance notes which can be downloaded here.

I haven’t yet started a claim, what new information do I need to know?

If you are starting a claim now (that is, on or after 3 August 2020), you don’t need to complete a reactivation notice as such. However, you will need to include a notice setting out the knowledge that you have as to the effect of COVID-19 on the defendant and their dependants.

This may need to be presented in court, so it is important that this is done.

Prioritisation

Largely due to the backlog, the courts have said that cases will be prioritised due to certain factors. These include extreme rent arrears (which is generally between 9-12 months), antisocial behaviour and domestic violence.

Cases will also be marked as relating to Covid-19, if the pandemic has had an effect on either the claimant or the defendant. If you have experienced hardship due to the pandemic, it is worthwhile making the court aware of your situation.

What is a “review date”?

This appears to be a recognition by the courts that the stay lasted for a significant amount of time. This hearing is an opportunity for both parties to take stock and reassess the situation before a substantive hearing, as circumstances may have changed since the claim was started.

I have received an order, now how do I enforce it?

This has become an even thornier subject than previously. It was already practically impossible to enforce a court order for the tenants to leave (that is, call in the bailiffs) in areas in the higher “tiers”. Now, this appears to be the same countrywide, until the lockdown is lifted, which is planned for 2 December.

It is also planned that bailiffs will not be able to evict tenants from 11 December 2020 to 11 January 2021. Should the lockdown be lifted as planned on 2 December, there will be a very small window in which to enforce an order for possession before the “winter truce” comes in. More than ever, it is prudent to act as quickly and efficiently as possible should you be attempting to regain possession of residential property.

If you or your business needs any assistance in starting a residential tenancy or recovering possession, please contact our team today and we will be happy to help.

Byron Sims

Solicitor — Litigation

Direct dial: 01202 755215

Email

Having joined Laceys in 2018, Byron qualified as a solicitor in 2019 and is delighted to be working within the dispute resolution team, with a focus on employment matters, debt recovery and landlord and tenant disputes.

Byron completed his first degree in modern language studies with the Open University in 2010 with a 2.1 (hons). He then studied law at Bournemouth University, passing the Graduate Diploma in Law with merit and the Legal Practice Course with distinction.

Before coming to law, Byron lived and worked around the world, from France to Bolivia, teaching English as a foreign language. From his travels and studies, Byron speaks fluent French and Spanish, as well as bits of other languages. As well as travel, Byron likes to spend his free time outdoors (weather permitting) and playing music.

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