Freeze on possession actions extended until 24 August 2020

In my previous articles published at the end of March 2020 and April 2020, I explained the measures which had been introduced in response to Coronavirus insofar as they applied to rented property.

One such step was the freeze on possession action until 25 June 2020, meaning that Landlords could not take steps to remove Tenants from their property. The Government has now announced that that freeze is to be extended until the 24 August 2020.

In a tweet posted on the evening of 5 June 2020, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that the

“Eviction hearings will not be heard in Courts until the end of August and no one will be evicted from their home this summer due to Coronavirus”.

As at the time of writing this article, Practice Direction 51Z, which recorded that possession actions were being stayed for a period of 90 days from the date the Direction came into force, had not been amended, but that will inevitably occur in the coming days.

The statement that “…no one will be evicted from their home this summer due to Coronavirus” is a curious one, given that whether or not a Tenant has been personally affected by Coronavirus has no bearing in whether a Landlord is able to take possession proceedings or not. The freeze on possession actions applies regardless of a Tenant’s circumstances and conduct, or whether they have been directly or indirectly affected by Coronavirus.

Whilst undoubtedly there will be some Tenants who have found themselves in dire straits as a result of Coronavirus who will welcome this extension to the freeze on possession action, there will also be some Landlords pulling their hair out at being unable to take action to remove Tenants who have used the freeze on possession actions to avoid paying rent, and stake their claims to being the ultimate Tenant/Neighbours from hell.

It will be interesting to see what impact the extension will have on notices served by Landlords to recover possession (the notice periods required to be given had previously been extended) and whether any exemptions are introduced to the stay of possession proceedings, such as the ability to commence possession proceedings on the grounds of anti-social behaviour -  I am not holding my breath in that regard.

We will provide further updates on any significant developments as and when they arise. 

In the meantime, if you have any queries arising from this article, or would like to suggest a topic for a future article, please contact Chris Drinkall on 01482 337367 or by email at  Chris can also be followed on twitter at @drinkall_chris and on LinkedIn.   

Posted on: 07/06/2020

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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