Possession Proceedings: not over yet

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Although there are now promising signs that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us in the UK, the effects are still being keenly felt by landlords who in some cases have not received rent for the best part of a year but have been unable to remove tenants from their properties. That position was set for some change this month when a number of the restrictions placed on landlords were due to expire, but on 10 March 2021 the government announced that the current restrictions will continue for several months yet.

Commercial tenancies

The moratorium on forfeiting business tenancies on the ground of non-payment of rent is to be extended until 30 June 2021. It remains to be seen what measures will be implemented at that stage to avoid opening the flood gates of re-possessions completely, but it seems unlikely that landlords will have an unfettered right to remove otherwise good tenants who have been unable to pay rent purely as a result of the pandemic. It may be that certain sectors which have been hardest hit such as hospitality will continue to have some protection whilst others will be left to negotiate a way through with their landlords.

Residential tenancies

Possession claims in respect of residential properties have been trickling through the courts again since last autumn, however, through a series of measures bailiffs have been unable to enforce possession orders in all but the most serious of cases and a recent  announcement confirmed that the moratorium on most evictions will continue until 31 May 2021.

In addition, the requirement to give tenants a minimum of six months’ notice in most cases will continue

Again, it seems unlikely that all restrictions will be lifted at the end of May although there is no indication at present as to how the precipice will be avoided.

The property possession can has been well and truly kicked down the road which means that we shall be back in the early summer to look at how the government plans to resolve the rent arrears crisis whilst striking a fair balance between landlords and tenants.

Here to Help

If you need advice on possession proceeding, please contact John Wagstaffe, Partner and Head of Property Litigation.

Please note the contents of this article are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.