Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government has introduced and implemented many practical measures and changes to UK Legislation, seeking to minimise the pandemic's negative effects on the UK economy. One of these changes affects the ability of Landlords to enforce possession proceedings against their tenants, in order to regain possession of their properties.
On 27th March 2020, the Government implemented a blanket "stay" (or hold) on all possession proceedings to protect tenants from eviction until 25th June 2020.
This change effectively meant that existing possession orders could not be enforced until at least 25th June 2020. Any new possession proceedings issued after 27th March 2020 would not be dealt with until after 25th June 2020.
The latest update
The Government have just announced that the current deadline (25th June 2020) has now been extended by a further 8 weeks to 23rd August 2020.
What does this mean?
This means that any Landlord who wishes to initiate new possession proceedings or enforce a previously obtained Order for possession will not be able to recover their property until at least 23rd August 2020.
This is the Government's latest measure to try and give some comfort and protection to tenants facing difficulty in meeting their obligations and requirements under their tenancy agreements, as a result of COVID-19.
Landlords are still able to initiate possession proceedings but the change means that such matters will not be dealt with by the Courts until at least 23rd August 2020.
The Government has made it clear that the current legislation surrounding this matter is still subject to change.
Currently, we know that 'Practice Direction 51Z', the rules governing how the Courts are expected to handle possession matters during COVID-19, will cease to have effect on 30th October 2020.
It is not clear whether the Government currently have any plans to extend this date. We expect that this will very much depend on how the effects of COVID-19 develop throughout the UK over the coming weeks.
Landlords should, therefore, not assume that they will automatically be in a position to recover possession of their properties immediately on or after 23rd August 2020.
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