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What do the complex new possession rules for residential landlords mean?

Landlords seeking to repossess a property are now required to provide information about how their tenant’s position has been affected by Covid-19 in their claim.

If they don’t, judges have the option to suspend the proceedings.

This new, and recently introduced practice direction, will be in place until the end of March 2021 prompting fears it will only further increase delays for residential possession hearings.

What are priority cases?

The six-month evictions ban ends on 20 September, after another extension, with court hearings due to start the following day.

The government is encouraging landlords to pursue only priority cases through the courts due to the huge backlog.

Priority cases include those involving domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour, squatters, fraud, illegal sub-letting and ‘extreme rent arrears’.

The exact definition of ‘extreme rent arrears’ has not yet been defined.

In most cases, until the end of March 2021, renters will also get six months’ notice if their landlord plans to evict them.

What are the changes landlords need to know about?

There are a number of ‘strict procedures’ brought in under new Civil Procedure Rules that must be followed for a landlord to gain possession of their property. These include:

  • Disclosing a tenant’s circumstances – a landlord seeking a new possession must detail in their claim any relevant information about a tenant’s circumstances, including the effect of Covid-19;
  • Notifying the court and the tenant of their desire to continue with a pre-existing possession claim by filling in a ‘reactivation notice’;
  • Providing a rent arrears history in advance of the hearing rather than at the hearing itself.

What next?

In these difficult and changeable times, it is important to keep the lines of communication with tenants open and try to find amicable solutions.

Mediation, also known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is being actively encouraged by the government and the National Residential Landlords Association.

For more information, please see our previous article Good news for residential landlords – possession hearings to re-start in August.

Get in touch

For next steps advice, or to talk about our specialist debt recovery service, please contact James Murray, James Taylor or Richard Darbinian, all members of Wards Solicitors’ highly acclaimed Business Disputes team.

James Murray: James.Murray@wards.uk.com

James Taylor: James.Taylor@wards.uk.com

Richard Darbinian: Richard.Darbinian@wards.uk.com

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