Safe Evictions During COVID-19?



A simple question was asked by one of our network in LINKEDIN today. It was simply this – can you evict someone under a Writ of Possession who is self-isolating due to COVID-19.


This led us to dig into the legal position and comment on the “human” situation posed by the eviction process.


Firstly, on the legal position we need to consider the Guidance issued by the UK Government on how enforcement agents should operate safely during the pandemic - please see https://bit.ly/35b2p2s.


Secondly, there is the Guidance for Landlords and Tenants - see https://bit.ly/3leWf87. Both are disappointingly silent on the specific point that was asked.


Guidance issued by The Master of the Rolls on 17th September 2020 says as follows, “Safety of defendants, occupants and High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs)/bailiffs in the specific case will be carefully considered by HCEOs/bailiffs.


The Ministry of Justice has issued guidance to ensure that no enforcement of possession orders will proceed

  • Where local lockdown measures are in place to protect public health (in areas where the public health risks could be greater), and

  • Other than in the most serious cases, over the Christmas period."

This is the most official piece of advice we have been able to find in my research.


Official guidance does not anticipate the situation of evicting someone who is self-isolating due to COVID. In the absence of that we consider we have to lean on Health & Safety legislation to guide us on how to respond to such a situation.


As required by the Guidance for enforcement agents, we are required to carry out a dynamic risk assessment for each visit. When we cross-reference the Guidance for enforcement agents working safely, and in particular, the section on attending at Residential Premises (which we think is more attuned to enforcing a money judgment rather than an eviction), we can anticipate the risk of entering a residential property where a person claims to be self-isolating due to COVID-19.