The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced last night that all ongoing housing possession claims would be put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak. The decision, taken by the Master of the Rolls, with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor will see the courts suspend all proceedings for a period of 90 days initially, but this period can be extended if needed.
This measure, which applies in both England and Wales, will protect all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
It follows an earlier publication of a bill announced by the Government earlier this week, to extend the notice period from two months to three months for the majority of tenants. This bill was criticised as it failed to protect tenants with claims already in the system. These new rules effectively mean that no-one will be under the threat of eviction, until the process begins to move again.
The Government has been keen to stress that tenants are still liable for their rent during this period. However, if they are facing financial hardship, they are now encouraged to engage with their landlord if they think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment. In addition to this announcement, the MHCLG are looking at ways to strengthen the pre-action protocol requirement and extend this to the private rented sector. This will help landlords and tenants to agree reasonable payment plans where rent arrears may have arisen.
The Government has also indicated that it is committed to supporting landlords. It has revealed that it has also agreed with lenders that they will ensure support is available where it is needed for landlords. Landlords will also be protected by a 3 month mortgage payment holiday where they have a Buy to Let mortgages.
The Geldards Team has the expertise to assist you with all of the aspects outlined above. For more information please contact a member of our Real Estate Litigation Team.
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