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COVID-19 - Another Pause on Evictions

View profile for Amanda Ford
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Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC, has written a letter to The High Court Enforcement Officers Association to request that their members pause evictions from residential premises except for in the following limited circumstances:

  • illegal trespass or squatting by person unknown;
  • nuisance or anti-social behaviour;
  • domestic abuse;
  • fraud or deception; and
  • properties unoccupied following the death of the defendant. 

Further, the government has confirmed the following in a press release published on 5 November 2020:

  • Evictions will not be enforced whilst national restrictions are in place
  • Evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs until 11 January 2021 at the earliest, except for the most egregious cases such as anti-social behaviour
  • Six month notice periods will stay in place until at least the end of March 2021, except for the most serious cases

The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that tenants will be protected during the national restrictions, with no bailiff enforcement action taking place.

Despite the Government’s announcement, it is questionable as to whether this is lawful given that bailiffs have a duty to enforce warrants notwithstanding a “request” from the Lord Chancellor not to do so.

Further, the Lord Chancellor’s conviction that a pause on evictions is “necessary for the protection of public health” and “in order to control the spread of infection” remains inconsistent with the inclusion of exemptions to the ban.

In practice, it is also undetermined how a bailiff would be able to ascertain the grounds of possession in order to decide whether an individual case fell within an exception.

Courts do remain open through the new national restrictions but priority will be given to claims issued before the stay commenced in March 2020, and to cases including those involving anti-social behaviour, extreme rent arrears, domestic abuse, fraud and deception, illegal occupiers and squatters or abandonment of a property, unlawful subletting, and cases concerning what was allocated as temporary accommodation by an authority.

How can we help?

If you are dealing with a possession claim, either bringing or defending one, you should obtain specialist legal advice as soon as possible.

TV Edwards has a team of solicitors with expertise in bringing and defending possession claims. We advise and act for tenants and landlords regarding enforcement of possession orders and warrants of possession/notices of evictions.

We work under legal aid for occupiers who are at risk of losing their homes and who meet the financial eligibility criteria. We offer reasonable fees where you are not eligible for legal aid.

If you are a tenant or occupier seeking legal advice relating to housing issues, then please contact us on 0203 440 8100 or email a_housingreferrals@tvedwards.com to see if we can assist.

If you are a landlord seeking advice on regaining possession of your property we can offer fixed fees or reasonable hourly rates for advice and representation. Please contact us on 020 3440 8100 or email A_LandLordServicesReferrals@tvedwards.com with your enquiry.