Eviction hearings are resuming in courts in England and Wales, with the most serious cases given priority, following a six-month ban on proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A backlog of cases has built up during the eviction ban, with cases involving domestic abuse or anti-social behaviour set to be heard first, while restrictions are still active in areas under local lockdown measures. Historic cases with rent arrears of more than 12 months will also be given priority.
Some campaigners have urged the Government to extend the ban, with approximately 230,000 tenants in England falling into arrears since March this year.
Landlords will now also be required to give tenants six months’ notice of an eviction, which is twice the length of the three-month notice period introduced by the recent legislation.
This could mean that new repossession matters take much longer, leaving landlords without income for a significant period.
The Government has, however, stated that it does not expect a wave of eviction notices, a statement which has been echoed by landlord groups.
Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, has said that evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs if an area is under local lockdown with restrictions on gathering in houses, while bailiffs have also been told not to enforce possession orders over the Christmas period, other than in ‘the most serious circumstances’.
If a possession order was made before 27 March 2020, then landlords may apply for this to now be enforced, with tenants to be given 14 days’ notice of any eviction.
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