Coronavirus Act 2020 – Effect on Possession Claims

After much discussion in the press the Coronavirus Act 2020 has now been introduced. In addition, the Government has announced that from the 27th March 2020 all ongoing possession actions are suspended.

The effect of the suspension of current possession actions is that landlords will not be able to obtain possession orders against tenants for at least the next 90 days. This is the case regardless of when proceedings were issued or when the notice was served on the tenant.

It is not clear whether this will also have the effect of suspending actions where possession orders have already been made but not yet enforced. Some bailiffs have been refusing to carry out evictions although that is not uniformly the case across the country. If more bailiffs do refuse to provide appointments then it may have the practical effect of suspending the enforcement of existing possession orders even if that had not been the intention of the Government.

Under section 81 and schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 the period of notice that has to be given before possession proceedings can be commenced is now extended to 3 months for all tenancies which have statutory protection, regardless of what period of notice would have been given prior to the enactment of the Act. This means that a section 21 notice will now need to be for a minimum of 3 months rather than the previous 2 months. Where, for example, a landlord would previously have served a section 8 notice giving 14 days’ notice of the intention to seek possession of a property on the basis of serious rent arrears, that period will now need to be 3 months rather than 14 days.

These amended notice periods apply to notices served from the 26th March to the 30th September 2020. It remains possible that the period may be extended to later in the year although that remains to be seen and will no doubt depend squarely on the progress of the virus throughout the year.

The legislation has also amended the prescribed section 21 notice and section 8 notices, those prescribed versions now being the ones to use where new notices need to be served.

The effect of these legislative changes is not to prevent courts from granting possession orders completely but is clearly going to have a significant impact on both landlords and tenants in the context of possession claims.

If you require any advice in relation to these changes or indeed any other landlord and tenant matters then please contact our Mr Rob Synnott on

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