Latest Judgment on Landlords’ Ability to Evict Tenants during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Judgment was handed down today (11 May 2020) by His Honour Judge Parfitt in the appeal case (Arkin -v- Marshall) that considered the challenge to the general stay of possession claims under CPR PD 51Z.

As a result of the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and Parliament’s passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020, an emergency amendment to the civil procedure rules came into force on 27 March 2020. This rule change imposed an automatic stay on proceedings of 90 days on all landlord and tenant possession claims and enforcement in the County Court and High Court, bar a few minor exceptions. A “stay” is effectively a pause in the court process. It prevents a landlord from obtaining a court order or the appointment of a bailiff to evict a tenant.

It is reported that there are approximately 9 million individuals that rent property in the UK. The change has therefore had a huge impact on many in the country.

A challenge was mounted as to amongst other things the lawfulness of the automatic stay.

A summary of the judgment is that the court has jurisdiction to lift the stay in respect of a particular case, upon an application by one of the parties (most likely the landlord), but it was difficult to envisage what particular circumstances would give rise to an appropriate order of the court lifting the stay.

The stay is due to end on 25 June 2020 in any event and it is not anticipated that there will be an appetite to extend this timeframe. Therefore, many County Courts will be bracing themselves for an influx of new possession claims, requests for possession order, and appointments with the bailiff.

The courts are building their possession lists as we speak, so if you are a landlord and wish to ensure that you are at the “front of the queue”, please contact our Commercial Litigation team who will be able to help with the process.

The full judgment to Arkin -v- Marshall is here:

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