Covid Restrictions On Residential Evictions - England Update
Andrea Clayton, Litigation Partner in our Derby office, considers the new eviction regulations introduced in January 2021.
The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection for Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/15) (New Regulations) were laid before Parliament on 8 January 2021 and came into force on 11 January 2021.
The New Regulations replace the Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1290) (Previous Regulations).
The new legislation announces that residential tenants will continue to be protected from eviction during the current national lockdown, and follow similar regulations as to those passed in Wales.
Under the New Regulations, up until 21 February 2021, preventing attendance at a dwelling house in England for the purpose of executing a Writ of Warrant of Possession, or delivering a Notice of Eviction, save in certain specific circumstances.
The New Regulations provide exemptions, meaning that evictions can still be carried out where the Court is satisfied that the Notice, Writ or Warrant, relates to an Order for Possession made:
- Against trespassers to which Civil Procedure Rule (CPR) 55.6 applies i.e. persons unknown; or
- Wholly or partly on the grounds of:
- Anti-social behaviour under Section 84A of the Housing Act 1985
- Ground 2 (nuisance), Ground 2A (domestic abuse) or Ground 5 (false statements) in Schedule 2 to The Housing Act 1985
- Ground 7A (anti-social behaviour), Ground 14 (nuisance), Ground 14A (domestic abuse) or Ground 17 (false statements) in Schedule 2 to The Housing Act 1988
- Case 2 (nuisance) in Schedule 15 to The Rent Act 1977; or
- Ground 7 (death of the tenant) in Schedule 2 to The Housing Act 1988 where the person attending has taken reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the property is unoccupied
- Wholly or partly on a ground involving rent arrears where the amount of unpaid rent arrears outstanding is at least an amount equivalent to 6 months rent.
In summary, the exemptions are the same as those contained in the Previous Regulations, subject to the amendment to the rent arrears exemption. This information may be welcomed by landlords as, under the Previous Regulations, landlords could only seek to enforce evictions in cases with rent arrears of 9 months or more at the date of the Possession Order (which had accrued before 23 March 2020). The New Regulations have reduced the minimum amount of rent that must be outstanding to 6 months rent and the arrears can now have accrued at any time. The explanatory memorandum which accompanies the New Regulations states that the Government has widened the rent arrears exemption in order to balance the impact of the extension on landlords whilst continuing to protect tenants from eviction.The explanatory memorandum also says that when making a Possession Order, the Court will record whether one of the exemptions applies. Where an exemption is not identified in an existing Possession Order, claimants may apply to Court under Part 23 of the CPR for the Court to determine whether one of the exemptions applies. The Application must be made on notice to the defendant. The amendment to the substantial rent arrears exemption means that a greater number of landlords will now be entitled to take enforcement action before 21 February 2021. However, it remains to be seen whether eviction dates will actually be scheduled or whether Applications under CPR 23 will, in practice, be heard before the restrictions are lifted.
Should you require further advice or assistance please contact Andrea Clayton – (work) 01332 378357 – (mobile) (0) 7436 036 384 – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Catherine Gritt – 0115 983 3655 – Email: email@example.com