Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland has written to the High Court Enforcement Officers Association to confirm that during the current lockdown there will be no enforcement of possession orders except for the most serious cases, including extreme rent arrears.

County court bailiffs had already been requested to stop enforcing possession orders but until now High Court bailiffs had been able to progress evictions, if requested to do so.

Although this latest announcement blocks off one of the last remaining avenues for landlords who have tenants with ‘normal’ (i.e. not extreme) rent arrears and other non-priority cases seeking to evict; it at least gives landlords facing extreme financial hardship caused by non-paying tenants some hope.

Buckland says his ministry will bring forward exceptions to the High Court enforcement halt, the key one being cases related to extreme pre-Covid rent arrears but also illegal trespassing and squatting, and tenants engaged in anti-social behaviour, fraud or deception.

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Ben Beadle (left), Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, says: “The vast majority of landlords who have had tenants affected due to the pandemic have been working constructively to support them.

“We continue to encourage and support such action. But in a minority of cases renters have abused the protections afforded by the recent ban on repossessions, causing significant hardship.

“It is therefore important that the Government recognises that in the most serious cases enforcement action must continue.”

Paul Shamplina (left) of Landlord Action, says: “This narrows down which landlords can now progress possession orders to an eviction, but it is a chink of light in dark times for those with extreme rent arrears – which we believe to mean of 12 months or more, with cases that were in the courts PRE-COVID.

“But first we have to persuade the county court to transfer the landlord’s case to the High Court, if that can be done, with evidence showing severe arrears and hardship to the landlord.  

“It will depend on how quickly the judge will deal with the application, then there is a chance the eviction can take place before Mid-January by a High Court Enforcement Officer, rather then wait for the county courts bailiff to resume in mid-January, when the mass backlog restarts. This assumes there is not an extended lockdown.”

Timothy Douglas (left), Policy and Campaigns Manager, ARLA Propertymark, says: “The UK Government has yet again extended the ban on evictions in England and this will come as a further blow to our members.

“It will cause further distress on landlords who are currently dealing with ongoing rental arrears and add further pressure on the courts to manage the back log of cases.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. Exactly why I haven’t taken any new tenants on since March…. You don’t know if the tenants your getting have been evicted for non payment and for me it’s not worth the risk or hassle. The tenants I do have are paying their rent so far and have done so right through the pandemic.

  2. I totally agree with Steven Newton’s comment below.
    Too many risks with no support from any source and no recourse to the law if you need it. I’d rather carry the vacancies.
    During this pandemic other businesses get grants and loans, individuals get furlough payments and landlords get sacrificed so that local authorities don’t have to deal with people who chose to make themselves homeless by refusing to pay rent.
    When Section 21 goes this current situation will be permanent. It will take at least a year to get a Section 8 claim through the courts and the legal costs will be terrible.
    There will be even less incentive to risk losing possession of your property in return for the measly 2 or 3% return the the rent produces.

  3. In effect, we are dispossessed of our properties. 1-year arrears. Joke surely anything over 3 months is already serious enough. Seems to me that Boris has something against private landlords. I have a tenant who as sub-let to god knows who—without my permission. Going to the High Court costs already around £2,500 & for what. When is this going to come to an end?

  4. This is absolutely terrible. As an ex landlord I feel for current landlords. It is just becoming unviable to let out properties. Alot of these tenants are playing the system & using it to fleece the homeowners. I totally agree with all the posts here. The government are stupid & shortsighted. Eventually PRS l/l’s will throw in the towel then what? Hotels & converted once empty office blocks full up with defaulters etc all?

  5. just asbad for those of us who had eviction orders before Covid lockdown. finally got a bailiff order last week only to be delayed again. Meanwhile i am homeless/ how many more years do we have to wait.

  6. I am appalled by this. I have had rental arrears since August 2019, so now that makes for 15 months of arrears. Possession order was done in February.

    The pre-Covid arrears amount to six months.

    Tenant has a smile on his face and finds it somewhat amusing. He will be there for a long time to come. He has also just changed the locks.

    I am despairing and this is a dark period of life.

    I wonder if the ‘extreme pre covid arrears’ mentioned in this article means 12 months BEFORE covid or at least twelve months in arrears at the time of bailiff application? (if it was 12 months before covid, that would mean it was now 21 months of arrears, which would be unbelievable).

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