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CooperBurnett Solicitors discuss the announcement for the Government on an extension to the moratorium on residential possession claims.

By Lee Quickenden, Associate Legal Executive

On Friday 5 June, the Government announced an extension to the moratorium on residential possession claims to 23 August 2020.

The moratorium, which is set out in Practice Direction PD51Z, has been in place since 27 March 2020, resulted in the automatic stay of all residential possession claims which had already been issued at Court, and also the stay of possession claims issued after 27 March.

The stay imposed by the moratorium applies to all possession claims, whether issued under s21 Housing Act 1988 or brought on grounds of rent arrears, anti-social behaviour or breach of the tenancy.

The requirement introduced by the Coronavirus Act to serve three months’ notice before issuing proceedings based on section 21 or section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 remains unchanged at present.

The aim of the extension is to avoid an influx of possession claims and evictions taking place in the summer months. However, this is still likely to occur whatever the timeframe is. This is due to the fact arrears will now be building up on a large number of properties whereby proceedings will be issued as soon as a landlord is able to do so, as well as all the previous cases that were before the court being resolved.

For landlords in a position to issue proceedings, it may well be worth issuing now, despite the stay that will be imposed by the Court. The reason being is two-fold:

(1) Section 21 notices have a six-month shelf life from the date of service and some may be nearing the end of their shelf life, meaning that the landlord would have to serve a fresh notice giving three months’ notice, before issuing so would effectively be back at square one.

(2) Landlords who have served a section 21 or section 8 notice on rent arrears or other grounds may also wish to consider issuing a possession claim now. In either case, although the claim will be stayed, the landlord will have reserved a place in the backlog of cases which can only get longer given the extension of the moratorium.

Please contact a member of our team on 01892 515022 if you would like to discuss this issue further.

This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.

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June 8, 2020
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