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The Changes to the Landlord Repossession Process That You Need to Know About

The Changes to the Landlord Repossession Process That You Need to Know About

The Changes to the Landlord Repossession Process That You Need to Know About

Coronavirus has changed every aspect of our lives. From pubs to shops and sport to holidays, 2020 and potentially 2021 will look very different from previous years as we adjust to new ways of life and new rules. Some of those rules dictate how the landlord repossession process will work once the government lifts the stay on evictions currently scheduled to end on Sunday 23rd August.

The changes to the landlord repossession process come as part of a temporary adjustment to the Civil Procedure rules that dictate how courts operate in England and Wales. On 17th July, the government published ‘The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020’, essentially a temporary change in regulations to take into account the effects of Covid-19 on the legal world.

What Has Changed With the Landlord Repossession Process?

There are five main changes to the landlord repossession process. The first relates to landlords who applied for possession of their property before the 3rd August. If you fall into this category and you would like to continue the proceedings, you must write to both the court and defendant and inform them of such. This is referred to as a ‘reactivation notice’ and issuing one of these is the only way that you can continue with the possession order. Courts will not hear cases where no reactivation notice is issued.

The next change to the landlord repossession law relates to the tenant’s circumstances. The landlord must provide, in the reactivation notice or at least before the hearing, details that they are aware of about how coronavirus has affected the tenant. If they have had to shield or self-isolate or any other Covid-19-related issue that could make them vulnerable. This rule relates to any possession procedures heading through the courts, whether they are new or old. If a landlord fails to disclose this information, the judge may adjourn the case.

In addition, if the landlord is citing arrears as the reason behind the possession order, they must provide proof before the hearing. Previously, they only needed to issue this at the time of the hearing itself. Another change to the landlord repossession process sees courts given more flexibility over hearing dates. There will no longer be a requirement to fix a court date eight weeks after the landlord receives the claim form.

Finally, High Court bailiffs will have to provide the tenant with notice of the eviction date in the same ways as county court bailiffs currently do. This notice must also include details of bodies that can provide advice and information on how to suspend the eviction.

These rules will stay in place until 28th March 2021, although they could be reviewed should the situation ease in the meantime.

Why Make Changes to the Landlord Repossession Law?

The reason behind many of the changes to the landlord repossession law are to do with clearing the backlog of cases currently going through the system. By making sure landlords actively want to proceed, it prevents courts wasting time on inactive cases. Making landlords provide evidence of arrears in advance will also prevent many speculative applications from wasting the court’s time.

The increased flexibility over hearing dates allows them to better schedule hearings to prevent slow periods being followed by a bunching of multiple cases in a small space of time. And the changes also show an attempt to be lenient on, or at least show understanding of, tenants whose issues have arisen entirely due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

In addition, the government is asking landlords not to pursue non-priority cases and instead seek mediation with tenants rather than clog up the courts. Priority cases are deemed to be those that deal with anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, extreme rent arrears, squatters, fraud or unlawful subletting.

If you want help dealing with evictions and the landlord repossession process, that is all part of our outsourced property management service. Contact us today to find out how we can free up your time by making lettings easy for you.

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