Since 23rd March 2020, there have been many changes made by the government, not least to the rules governing residential possession claims. One of the most recent changes comes in the form of The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 (SI/2021).
Paragraph 2 of the regulations states that no person may attend a dwelling for the purposes of executing a writ or warrant of possession or for delivering a notice of eviction. This effectively prevents County Court or High Court bailiffs from enforcing Possession Orders. The moratorium on evictions is due to expire on 21st February 2021 (although as we have seen in the past, this deadline may well be extended at relatively short notice).
At first glance, the regulations appear to be a simple extension of the moratorium that was already in place. However, there is one rather significant amendment that landlords should take note of. Previously, one of the exceptions where evictions could take place was if there were ‘substantial rent arrears’. The definition of ‘substantial’ was that there had to be at least 9 months’ rent arrears and any arrears accrued after 23 March 2020 were not included in the calculation.
However, paragraph 2(4) of the regulations, which came into force on 8th January 2021, has amended the definition of ‘substantial’ to mean the equivalent to 6 months’ rent arrears regardless of when they were accrued.
This will be welcome news to landlords who have been facing mounting rent arrears with no prospect of enforcing a possession order even if they are able to obtain one from the Court!
If you require any assistance or advice on the ever changing landscape of landlord and tenant law, please do contact either Ben Colenutt (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Amy Johnson-White (email@example.com) who would be happy to assist.