Updated: Dec 2, 2020
There is a feeling that the coronavirus it's going to be with us for a long time. Landlords have been hard hit by the impact of emergency regulations which touch every aspect of the repossession of property from a tenant. Possession orders are used by both private and public sector property and landowners to remove tenants and trespassers. Government announcements on how to handle the enforcement of possession orders are something landlords and their advisors must also adjust to in the days and weeks ahead.
As High Court Enforcement Officers we see it as our role to assist in this process and to ensure we comply with the new regulations. As many of you know the government has decided to lift its ban on the enforcement of possession orders from the 23rd of August 2020. New rules are governed by The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 2020 No. 751 (L. 17) and are introduced into the Civil Procedure Rules under CPR Part 55 with a temporary Practice Direction 55C supplementing Part 55 (“PD55C”) (see this more in-depth commentary on the practice direction from leading law firm - Weighman's - https://bit.ly/30rqzo4).
In the “new normal” the Ministry of Justice have been careful in the preparation of policies to manage the inevitable backlog of cases created by courts being closed and to protect vulnerable tenants from landlords who could rush in to try and take back possession proceedings without understanding the consequences of a stampede to eviction procedure after an order for possession.
The unwinding of this COVID situation needs care and further additional measures have been introduced by the Government to anticipate and control a stampede to evict tenants which in turn would have adverse social consequences such as local authorities being put under pressure to re-house and of course the spectre of homelessness.
New changes to the possession action process
For landlords that have an accelerated possession claim which is waiting to be heard, they will have to take additional steps to reactivate that hearing and to move forward to the possession order that they need you to line
A landlord will have to inform both the court and the tenant in writing that they wish to proceed with the possession claim after the ban is lifted on 23rd August 2020. This reactivation notice must be sent to ensure the possession hearing can go ahead.
Additionally, landlords will have to provide relevant information about the position of their tenant. This will include, and may not be known, whether the tenant has any dependents and both the tenant’s and the dependent’s situation in relation to vulnerability, disability, shielding from the virus and the social security situation.
Full details of the rent arrears must also be disclosed to the court in advance of the hearing as opposed to at the hearing itself.
Once the landlord has gathered in all the information and sent a re-activation notice then the court will fix a date either on or after issue
There will be a suspension of the usual 8-week period between the issue of a claim form and the actual hearing itself.
The impact on eviction dates offered by county court bailiff departments is likely to be adversely impacted despite these new Regulations and Practice Direction
The Rules are designed to ease people out of lockdown and back to normality and we understand that. We know landlords are anxious to get back to normal and manage their properties, so they are occupied with tenants who are paying the rent.
We encourage landlords to add to their claim form a clause seeking permission for any transfer possession order to the high court and enforcement action in the High Court using the Court’s discretion. This wording should be added to each and every claim for possession. It will be up to the District Judge whether he or she grants permission but unless it is requested, we anticipate it is going to be much harder to get that permission after the order has been made.
From our own experience we know that prior to the pandemic, landlords were reporting court delays of three to four months in giving a date for eviction. The COVID crisis has only increased the opportunity for delay.
High Court Possession Order
Are you in one of these situations?
You have a county court possession order ready to enforce with express permission allowing transfer to the High Court – you have everything you need – please click a picture or scan it to us so we can review it and get it processed ready for an eviction date in September
You have a county court possession order, but it doesn’t have express permission to transfer to the High Court – you have two options. 1. Make an application to the county court to seek that permission and see if you can persuade the District Judge to grant permission having put together all the necessary information needed about the tenant’s situation. 2. Sit tight for a county court eviction date.
You have a claim going through the Courts – please review the link and commentary to see where you stand in relation to getting your claim re-activated – see https://bit.ly/30rqzo4.
You haven’t started your possession claim yet – you will now know what you have to do to prepare all the necessary information for the court – and make sure you add in a request to transfer the enforcement of the possession order to the High Court based on the fact you as the landlord have lost and will continue to lose, a considerable amount of rent, which has adversely impacted on your own financial position (you will need to say why to convince a District Judge of your own hardship)
High Court enforcement officers and bailiffs with a warrant of possession stand ready to assist landlords to achieve a speedy resolution to the delay created by COVID. A possession order containing express permission to transfer to the High Court can lead to eviction within days and may even alleviate some of the pressure on the County court system.
If you find yourself needing to move more quickly with the possession order you already have or with possession orders in the future please speak to our expert team who can guide you on timelines costs and any procedural points you need to complete.
The good news is we can process your information now and have it ready to go to court immediately after the 23rd has passed.
Call us on 0845 890 9200 or email us at email@example.com