Back in July, the government announced changes to eviction processes in England and Wales.
These temporary measures aim to help the courts cope with the influx of possession proceedings once the ‘eviction ban’ is lifted on 23rd August 2020.
The changes include claimants needing to issue a “reactivation notice” to resume halted evictions and will be effective until March 28th 2021.
Why are there changes to eviction proceedings?
Changes have been made to the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to ease the “increasing volume” of evictions expected once the 5-month ‘ban’ is ended.
The amendments intend to “promote best practice and consistency in and related to possession proceedings in the continuing context of the pandemic and the economic situation”.
The measures have been brought in with “practical issues” in mind, such as pre-action conduct, case management, remote-working and social distancing,
The government have also taken into account the position of “tenants, landlords, lenders, local authorities and other court users” with special regard for those who are particularly vulnerable.
What are the changes?
NOTE: For clarity, a ‘claimant’ would typically be the landlord and the ‘defendant’ would be the tenant.
Reactivation notices – If a claimant wishes to resume halted proceedings, they must inform the court and the defendant in writing with a “reactivation notice”.
If a claim is not reactivated by 29th January 2021, the case will be automatically stayed.
Providing relevant information – Claimants must also provide relevant information about the defendant’s circumstances – such as the effect of the pandemic of the defendant and their dependants. This will help the court regard “vulnerability, disability, social security position and those who are shielding”.
Dates fixed by the courts – Courts will fix a date either on or after the issue of a claim so that hearings will be spread out and ‘bunching’ will be avoided.
8-week wait period suspended – The standard period between the issue of a claim form and a hearing (usually not more than 8 weeks) has been suspended to spread of hearings appropriately and reduce court capacity.
Arrear evidence in advance – Claimants will be required (as far as practicable) to produce a full arrears history in advance rather than at the hearing.
These measures will be in place in England and Wales until 28th March 2021 and may be reviewed by the government beforehand.
£50,000 of legal protection is included in all our rental plans (starting from £39 a month).
Extended eviction ‘ban’ in Scotland
The Scottish government have extended their protection for renters until 28th March 2021. This means Scottish tenants cannot be evicted on the grounds of rent arrears.
Nicola Sturgeon says the extension “underlines the continuing commitment of the government to do everything we can to protect tenants and also prevent people becoming homeless as a result of this pandemic”.
6-month eviction notices in Wales
In Wales, eviction notice periods have been extended to 6 months until Wednesday 30th September 2020.
Housing Minister Julie James MS has said that the changes hope to “increase security and reduce anxiety” for tenants, but Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, has called the ruling “a real hammer blow to landlords in Wales”.
Read more about 6-month eviction notices in Wales here.
What are your thoughts on the changes to evictions proceedings in England, Scotland and Wales? Let us know in the comments below.