Leading eviction solicitors are concerned that tenants with long-term rent arrears built up before the Covid pandemic hit are claiming to have Covid in order to delay being evicted.

Landlord Action says it is getting direct experience of what is happening on the ground with possession claims across the whole country after the stay on possession hearings was lifted late last month.

“The positive for landlords is that the courts are open and progressing cases,” says Tim Frome, the firm’s Legal Director.

“We had a Section 21 possession order through from Bromley County Court last week for a claim that was issued in June, and we also have a number of review hearings taking place this week.”

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But Frome (pictured, below) says there is increasing evidence that tenants with significant rent arrears are ‘playing the system’ to delay landlords taking back their properties despite possession orders have been secured.

“We had a case this week where a tenant had not paid their rent since at least January but, when bailiffs arrived to evict them, the tenant phoned the court to say they had developed a cough and lost their sense of smell,” he says.

The magistrate then suspended the warrant and scheduled a new hearing in two weeks’ time, despite no medical evidence to back up the claim.

“The tenant’s claim may have been true, but there is a worry that tenants are beginning to abuse the court process and allege they have Covid, knowing that this means bailiffs will not enforce,” says Frome.

Follow live reports on evictions around the UK via the Twitter hashtag #CourtWatch.

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