Possession Proceedings Update

The Ministry of Justice has published its quarterly figures from January to March 2021which show a decrease in landlord possession actions by an average of 76% from the same period in 2020. This is reflective of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw England go into lockdown in March 2020 and the government introducing measures which included a stay on most possession proceedings, the lengthening of notice periods and restrictions on bailiff enforcement.  

The breakdown is as follows: 

  • Possession claims were down 74% 
  • Possession orders were down 72% 
  • Warrants were down 80% 
  • Repossessions were down 96% 

The average time from claim to repossession has increased to 57.6 weeks from 21.1 weeks in the same period in 2020. This is likely reflective of the stay on possession proceedings between 27th March 2020 and 20th September 2020 and the stay on evictions which was only lifted on 31st May 2021. 

The gradual easing of restrictions will see an increase in the number of possession claims, although it is likely the effects of the pandemic and the resulting measures that were introduced will continue to have an impact on possession proceedings for the foreseeable future, including on the court’s capacity to process the claims. 

The current notice periods as at 1st June 2021 are: 

  • Grounds 1-6, 9, 13, 15, 16 – four months’ notice 
  • Ground 12 (breach of tenancy) – four months’ notice 
  • Grounds 8, 10 or 11 (rent arrears) with less than four months’ arrears – four months’ notice (unless a breathing space has started) 
  • Grounds 8, 10 or 11 (rent arrears) where the notice is served after 1st August 2021 with less than four months’ arrears – two months’ notice (unless a breathing space has been started) 
  • Grounds 8, 10 or 11 (rent arrears) with more than four months arrears – four weeks’ notice (unless a breathing space has been started) 
  • Ground 7 (after death of tenant) – two months’ notice 
  • Ground 7B (no right to rent) Ground 14A (domestic violence), 14Z (indictable offence in a riot or 17 (false representation) – two weeks’ notice 
  • Grounds 7A (mandatory ASB/conviction) – 28 days periodic or one-month fixed term notice 
  • Ground 14 (ASB) – No notice period 

Once the relevant notice has expired, proceedings can be issued and they will progress through the court with some amendments to the usual process. 

The main changes to the process are as follows: 

  1. A Coronavirus Notice must be attached to the proceedings at issue stating as to how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the tenant or tenants’ dependents.   
  1. The claim will be listed for a review hearing. This will not be an attended hearing, but the parties should be available should the judge need to discuss the claim when undertaking the review. The new mediation service may be offered at the review.   
  1. At least 14 days prior to the review hearing contact details should be provided to the court along with an electronic bundle of the relevant documents. These should also be provided to the tenant which must be confirmed to the court. 
  1. Following the review hearing a substantive hearing will be listed. At the substantive hearing two copies of a Pre-action Protocol and Coronavirus Notice should be brought to court and a copy of the Notice served on the tenant 14 days before the hearing. 

Contact us, we are here to help

If you have any questions regarding possession proceedings during the Covid-19 pandemic, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Amy Tagoe on 0151 230 4146 or email amytagoe@msbsolicitors.co.uk