A leading law firm has confirmed that it anticipates ‘serious delays’ for landlords looking to progress existing or new ‘low-priority’ evictions cases such as ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions for non-payment of rent as judges prioritise what they consider to be ‘high priority’ cases.

The comments are made by two property law experts at law firm CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro – Eleanor Murray and Laura Cole as they explore how the new PD55C practice direction for possession hearings will pan out once the eviction ban ends on 23rd August, and the ramifications it will have for lawyers, landlords and tenants.

The government has stressed on several occasions that it is keen to encourage landlords wherever possible not to pursue non-priority cases through the courts and instead focus on those involving anti-social behaviour, extreme rent arrears, domestic abuse, cases involving squatters, fraud or unlawful subletting. 

It has also let it be known that this is a practical approach – the court system will not be able to cope if there is a surge of new possessions claims after August 23rd.

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Pre-action procedures

The new PD55C practice direction seeks to achieve the same thing – to manage the flow of claims by forcing landlords and letting agents to complete pre-action procedures prior to a possession hearing being granted or an existing actions to be reactivated.

“The way this is carried out all depends on if it’s just a way for the government to expect buy-to-let investors to subsidise the lives of people in the pandemic,” says Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley.

Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action, says: The worry for Landlords acting in person or using an unregulated eviction company is that they do not comply correctly or deal with the process of Re-Activation notices, which if done incorrectly will lead to further delays.

“I said right at the start of the suspension of evictions in March, the problem will be the backlog. I just hope the Ministry of Justice went on a massive recruitment drive to bring more judges back, to deal with the demand.”

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