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The stay on possession proceedings has been extended with an important change

Important update: this ban was extended on March 11th until May 31st 2021.

Ministers have announced they are going to extend the ban on possession proceedings until at least 31st May, 2021. Legislation is in place to ensure eviction notices are not served except in serious circumstances to include substantial levels of rent arrears.

It has been almost a year since the Coronavirus Act was passed, putting measures in place to limit the number of evictions taking place except in the most serious of circumstances. Although the eviction ban has once again been extended, landlords have been thrown a lifeline regarding the recovery of unpaid rent on their properties where substantial rent arrears remain outstanding.

Previous legislation defined substantial rent arears as equivalent to nine months’ rent and any arrears accrued during the first lockdown on 23 March 2020 was excluded from the total.

The term “substantial rent arrears” has now been re-defined. An eviction notice can now be served where rent arrears exceed the value of six months’ rent. Under the new legislation, overdue rent payments accrued during the pandemic can now be included. Furthermore, the amount of rent arrears that must have accumulated prior to issuing possession proceedings has been reduced from nine months down to six months.

Where at least six months’ of rent is unpaid, a minimum four week notice period is required as opposed to the six month notice period for rent arrears of less than six months’ rent value.

If a claim for possession was made before 3rd August 2020 a landlord must also advise the tenant and the court that they still intend to seek possession of the property. A reactivation form will then be needed to proceed.

The courts continue to encourage parties to work together and where possible, make arrangements outside of the court such as payment plans or mediation. New court rules mean landlords are asked to consider such requests prior to any hearings.

At Linder Myers, we have robust vulnerability procedures in place to offer our clients alternative options when dealing with vulnerable leaseholders and those adversely affected by the pandemic. We can offer legal advice on these matters as well as assistance to recover arrearage outstanding. Get in touch with enquiries@lindermyers.co.uk for more information.

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