The stay on possession proceedings is to be lifted on Sunday 23 August but there is unlikely to be an immediate spike in tenant evictions, says law firm Collyer Bristow.
Lauren McQue, a Senior Associate in the Real Estate Litigation team at law firm Collyer Bristow explains.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had a major effect on a landlord’s ability to evict tenants. A halt to possession proceedings and evictions was introduced in March to ensure the health and safety of the public, to prevent people who may have lost their job from being made homeless, and to ensure the courts were not burdened with cases at a time they were understaffed and under-resourced.
“The measures have, however, had a major impact on landlords who have, in a large number of cases, been unable to take steps against tenants who might be in breach of their tenancy for reasons entirely unconnected to the pandemic.
“Although the stay was extended in June, it will now expire on 23 August, meaning that previous and new claims issued can be progressed by the courts. Although we cannot of course rule out a further extension.
“In claims that were subject to the stay, a reactivation notice will need to be served before a court date will be given. In both previous and new claims, landlords will need to provide information on the impact of the pandemic on tenants and their dependants, which the court may use to triage the most critical cases. Either way, the new measures will slow the eviction process down in a number of cases.
“Whilst it is likely that we will see an increase in possession claims, that is unlikely to result in an immediate August spike in evictions. The courts face a backlog of cases and continuing social distancing measures could see most cases progress slowly. There will not be the bulk listing of residential possession cases seen before the coronavirus pandemic.
“The measures put in place to protect tenants are to some extent understandable, but the lifting of the stay will be a welcome relief for landlords, some of whom are too feeling the financial pain of the pandemic.”