The Government has once again extended the “Winter Truce” period in respect of evictions. The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) (No.2) Regulations 2021 (“the Regulations”) have extended the previous regulations and will now expire on 31 March 2021.
This does not preclude Landlords from issuing possession proceedings, serving notices requiring possession or applying for a bailiff appointment. However, the actual bailiff appointments cannot take place until the restrictions end.
Tenants must be given 14 days’ notice of an eviction taking place, which means it is likely that 14 April 2021 is the earliest date upon which appointments will be arranged.
As before Landlords can apply for their case to be exempt from the restrictions if one of the following exemptions apply:
- Possession orders made against trespassers;
- Possession orders made wholly or partly on the basis of anti-social behaviour;
- Possession orders made wholly or partly on the basis of a false statement;
- Possession orders made wholly or partly on the basis of domestic violence;
- Where the property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant; and
- Where there are substantial rent arrears (6 months rent or more).
For the possession order to have been made on the above exemptions, a Section 8 notice will likely have been relied upon. In a recent High Court case it was found that in order to rely on the substantial rent arrears exemption, the order for possession itself must have been made on the basis of the rent arrears rather than on the basis of a section 21 notice where the tenant happens to also be in substantial rent arrears. This will mean that the claim for possession would have had to have been made having sought possession on an expired Section 8 Notice. Whilst this was not strictly what had been included in the regulations, it appears that this will be the ongoing interpretation. Therefore, Landlords who have issued possession proceedings reliant on a Section 21 Notice will not be eligible to apply for the exemption regardless of the amount of arrears outstanding.
Those looking to use the exemptions to obtain possession must make a separate application requesting the court permits an earlier eviction stating the matter is exempt from the regulations and can be listed for a bailiff appointment. The courts will not apply a relevant exemption on their own initiative.