A leading housing lawyer says it is likely that 30,000 landlords are trapped by the evictions ban and has warned them not to assume that these cases will proceed automatically once the ban lifts on Monday.
Alex Cook says it is ‘incredibly unfair’ that many of these landlords have been waiting since the beginning of the ban in March to proceed with evictions due to the non-payment of rent unconnected to Covid.
But, as we reported last week, these may not be prioritised unless a landlord can prove ‘extreme rent arrears’, something the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has yet to quantify.
Cook, who is a director of South Coast legal firm Helix Law, says many landlords are unaware of the need for them to do anything on or after 23rd August.
“Without a reactivation notice nothing will happen with their claim and the arrears will continue to accrue,” he says.
“Landlords may mistakenly believe that the end of the ban on evictions means something will start to happen but that won’t be the case.”
Cook also has significant concerns over what a reactivation notice must include to be accepted.
“There’s no specific format to the reactivation notices and if tenants have stopped all contact it’s impossible for a landlord to know if coronavirus has had any impact on them or not,” he says.
“This may waste court time and result in claims taking longer than they should, unfairly impacting landlords even further.”
Those with new claims must now also comply with new requirements including setting out what knowledge they have on the effect of coronavirus on the tenant and their dependants, as well as serving another notice both on the tenant and with the court.
“Many landlords will ask how they are to obtain any information if a tenant is failing to communicate with them and will feel this is yet another hurdle for them to get the rent arrears they’re owed,” says Cook.