Most evictions in England remain suspended until after 31 May as a result of changes introduced by the Government in response to the pandemic. Certain evictions can still go ahead (for example where there are more than 6 months’ rent arrears or anti-social behaviour), although bailiffs will reschedule evictions for a later date if an individual residing in the property is self-isolating or displaying symptoms of COVID-19
On 12 May, the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, announced that the emergency measures for renters introduced during the pandemic would be brought into line with the roadmap.
Notice periods for the service of Section 21 Notices (based on no fault evictions) that were increased to 6 months will be reduced to 4 months from 1 June. The Minister indicated that he planned for notice periods to return to pre-pandemic levels (being 2 months) from 1 October.
The current ban on all other bailiff enforced evictions will end on 31 May, although the restrictions on carrying out an eviction if anyone living at a property is self-isolating or displaying symptoms are expected to remain.
Landlords directly feeling the effects of a tenant failing to pay rent will welcome this announcement. However, getting a County Court bailiff appointment often took many weeks pre-pandemic and with the anticipated increase in demand, further delays in obtaining possession seem inevitable.
In certain circumstances, there is scope for a possession order to be transferred to the High Court where there is greater access to more enforcement agents, but how willing County Court Judges will be to agree to such a transfer in the current climate is unclear.
The Government has also announced that a White Paper will be published in the autumn setting out proposals for the abolition of Section 21 evictions to provide tenants with greater security. In short, the long-tail of Covid will be felt by the property letting market for many months (or years) to come.
This comment first appeared in Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary