Social Housing Speed Read – Practice Direction 55C
24th July, 2020
In response to Covid-19 and the subsequent measures imposed by the Government, new rules were introduced in March 2020 which stayed possession proceedings until 25 June 2020. In June, additional rules were introduced which extended the stay until 23 August 2020.
We now know what will happen next.
Practice Direction 55C (“PD 55C”) will come into force on 23 August 2020 and will apply until 28 March 2021. PD 55C outlines the procedure that must be adopted following the expiry of the stay.
A party who wishes to continue a claim for possession, following the expiry of the stay, must file and serve a written ‘Reactivation Notice’.
A Reactivation Notice must set out the following:
- a request that the claim is listed, relisted, heard or referred; and
- any knowledge that the party has regarding the effect of Covid-19 on the defendant and their dependants.
The following documents must also be filed and served with the Reactivation Notice:
- if the claim for possession is based on rental arrears, an updated rent account for the previous two years; and
- if case management directions were made prior to 23 August 2020:
- a copy of the most recent case management directions with any additional dates for compliance;
- a draft order outlining any additional directions required;
- if no additional directions are required, a statement outlining this and confirming that the existing hearing date can be met; and
- a statement confirming whether the case is suitable for hearing by video or audio link.
If a Reactivation Notice is not filed and served by 4:00pm on 29 January 2021, the claim will be automatically stayed. It is noted that a Reactivation Notice is not required if the claim was brought on or after 3 August 2020 or if a final order for possession has been made.
For claims brought on or after 3 August 2020, the Claimant is required to bring to the hearing, two copies of a ‘Covid-19 Notice’. A Covid-19 Notice must set out the following:
- if the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords (the “Protocol”) applies, the notice must confirm that the Claimant has complied with the Protocol and detail how; and
- in all cases, what knowledge the party has regarding the effect of Covid-19 on the defendant and their dependants.
Covid-19 Notices must be served on the Defendant not less than 14 days prior to the hearing.
Notice of Eviction
The requirements for notices of evictions have also been amended; these changes come into force on 23 August 2020.
The new rules provide that notices of evictions must be delivered to the premises not less than 14 days before the warrant or writ is executed. The notice must be addressed to all persons named in the order and to ‘any other occupiers’. The notice must be delivered through the letter box, affixed to the door of the property or attached to a stake in the land.
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.
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