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Social Housing Speed Read – Possession proceedings during the COVID-19 outbreak

A number of new measures apply to possession proceedings due to COVID-19.

New notice periods for NSPs

  • From 26 March 2020 Landlords will need to give tenants 3 months’ notice to seek possession : the landlord can’t apply to start the court process until after this period.
  • Applies to tenure under  Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988; this legislation will all have to be read subject to the amendments introduced by Schedule  29 to the Coronavirus Act 2020 available here.
  • extended “buffer period” will apply until 30 September 2020 and both the end point, and the three month notice period may be extended if needed. This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, and all grounds of evictions. This includes possession of tenancies in. After three months if the tenant has not moved a landlord needs to apply to court in order to proceed.

Possession claims

  • From 27 March 2020 all ongoing housing possession actions are suspended for 90 days (can be extended). Neither current or pending possession claims can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. See new Practice Direction 51Z here
  • Applies to both private and social renters, and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977
  • Injunction applications are not stayed
  • Tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual. If they face financial hardship and struggle to pay this, support is available.
  • The pre-action protocol is to be amended, and extended to the private rented sector.

This article will be added to Ward Hadaway’s COVID-19 hub which provides a repository for legal information and resource that you and your organisation may find of assistance to your operations during these fast moving times. Click here to access to hub.

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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