The Winter Truce Regulations and the Consequences for Evictions

As many of our subscribers may already be aware, the Courts have now entered a period they have referred to as the ‘Winter Truce’ in relation to evictions. This situation is the result of the Government introducing The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”). The Regulations, came into force from 17 November 2020 in England only. These Regulations restrict county court bailiffs from conducting evictions.

The Regulations will remain in place until the 11 January 2021, with the aim being to protect tenants from eviction over the Christmas period.

A number of exemptions have been included in the Regulations, which are as follows:

  • A possession order made against trespassers;
  • A possession order made wholly or partly on the basis of anti-social behaviour;
  • A possession order made wholly or partly on the basis of false statement;
  • A possession order made wholly or partly on the basis of domestic violence;
  • Where the property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant.

There is an additional exemption of extreme rent arrears. Extreme rent arrears, for the purpose of the Regulations, are considered as a possession order granted on the basis of 9 months’ rent arrears. However, there is a caveat. Rent arrears accrued after 23 March 2020 cannot be included in this calculation. Any possession order where the 9 months’ rent arrears includes arrears accrued after that date do not fall within this exemption.

Whilst the restrictions are due to end on 11 January 2021, eviction notices require 14 days’ notice. This means it is highly likely 25 January 2021 is the earliest date upon which appointments will be arranged. In addition to the above, backlogs are still an issue for the Court following the disruption this summer which is likely to cause further considerable delay and will vary between courts. It should be noted, the Regulations do not stop landlords from applying to the Court for enforcement where the Tenant has not complied with a Court Order. This means landlords can continue to request appointments despite them not going ahead until January 2021.