Can landlords re-possess properties if tenants can’t afford to pay the rent because of the coronavirus outbreak?
After 25 March 2020, and until 30 September 2020, a landlord can only start possession proceedings against a tenant if they have served 3 months’ notice upon the tenant – irrespective of any grounds relied upon.
On 27 March 2020, the Court introduced new rules to put all possession proceedings (except against trespassers) on hold until 25 June 2020 – it means that the Court cannot make an order for possession or any other order that would cause someone to be evicted during that time.
These rules do not just apply to tenants who have fallen into rent arrears.
On 5 June 2020, the Government announced that this stay would be extended further until 23 August 2020.
This means that you can issue new possession proceedings (provided you have complied with the new temporary rules in relation to notice periods, if the notice was served since 25 March 2020) and you can continue with existing possession proceedings.
However, any progress you may be able to make in dealing with those proceedings is likely to be very limited – the Court will allow you to comply with directions orders that have already been made but non-compliance will not be punished (at least for the time being).
These rules, and the latest announcements, are in keeping with the Government’s expectation that landlords show compassion towards affected tenants and that all parties will work together to establish a suitable repayment plan to allow tenants to repay the arrears at an affordable rate.
This guidance from the Chief Coroner applies to reports of death and coroner investigations in England and Wales. It is to assist coroners in continuing to exercise their judicial decisions independently, in accordance with the law, and during the extraordinarily pressured events being faced at present.
From 8 June 2020, people entering the UK from overseas (excluding those entering from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) must comply with a mandatory 14 day quarantine period. However, for those travelling to England, a number of country specific exemptions have been introduced.
A full list of the countries excluded from the quarantine provisions can be found on the gov.uk website which change on a regular basis, often on short notice.
Where a quarantine period does apply, a person will not be able to leave the place they are staying in for 14 days, except in some very limited circumstances.
These rules will apply to both British and foreign nationals, however there are some further exemptions to this rule where a person is coming to the UK to undertake a certain role (such as a healthcare professional coming to the UK to provide essential healthcare). A full list of the narrow exemptions can be found on the gov.uk website.
Before travelling, individuals will be asked to provide their contact details and information about their journey and the accommodation that they will be self-isolating in. To do this, individuals will need to fill in an online form on the gov.uk website. Individuals who refuse to fill in this form may be fined £100 and/or denied entry at the UK border should they not be a British citizen or UK resident.
The information provided in the form will ensure that the Government can check that an individual is self-isolating at the address given. Where an individual refuses to self-isolate they can be fined £1,000 if they are staying in England or Wales.
Once visa application centres re-open overseas and UK visa applications are processed, this 14 day period will need to be taken into consideration and may require employment start dates in the UK to be delayed.
Employees with visas should be treated consistently with the wider workforce. When their furlough leave ends, they should return to work and their pay should be reinstated. If you agree a pay cut or reduction in working hours, you need to ensure that sponsored workers are still earning above the minimum salary for their role and working in excess of the minimum number of hours (see above).
The flexible furlough scheme is now in place and can be used for employees who have previously been furloughed for a consecutive period of at least three weeks. The flexible furlough scheme remains in place until 31 October 2020.
The new rules for wearing face masks/face coverings in the workplace introduced on 23 September 2020 are as follows:
- Staff in retail, including shops, supermarkets and shopping centres, will now have to wear a face covering
- Staff in hospitality will now have to wear a face covering
- Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, will now become law
- Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers will continue to be advised to wear face coverings
You can take off your mask if:
- You who need to eat, drink, or take medication
- A police officer or other official asks you to
There are several options that can be used at this time to try and settle disputes. If it is not possible to settle a dispute via direct discussions between the parties then some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) might be appropriate. Mediation is the most popular form of ADR. Most people’s perception of mediation is that it needs to be in person but that does not have to be the case.
Mediation can take place online or on the telephone. Most, if not all, ADR providers remain open for business and are quickly changing their business model to ensure that mediations can still take place. Mediation can be arranged at reasonably short notice and certainly so far as the online model is concerned, it mirrors the process that is adopted when parties appear in person. Online mediation allows for joint sessions with the mediator to take place and also for the parties to break out into their respective rooms for private discussions. If a dispute settles at mediation – and the vast majority do – then the agreement reached between the parties is binding and can be enforced.
A group of senior former judges and legal academics have now called for an acceleration in the use of ADR in light of the current circumstances. They have stated that courts should promote “and where appropriate require” the use of ADR. Mediation has particularly seen an increase in growth at this time.
ADR normally results in a quicker outcome than if the matter proceeds in the courts. Due to its conciliatory nature it is a very useful process where parties continue to be in a trading relationship. Contracting parties should also consider building ADR into dispute resolution clauses in their contracts so that in the event there is a dispute the focus is on resolving the dispute as soon as possible before it escalates into litigation.”