A specialist law firm is reminding landlords considering possession proceedings that they still need to be aware of key changes to the law since the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020.
Jonathan Frankel, Litigation Partner at Cavendish Legal Group, says that pre-Covid, regaining possession of property could be done by either serving a section 8 (s8) or section 21 (s21) notice under the Housing Act 1988.
But today, even if what may well be the later stages of the pandemic, there are more restrictions to be aware of such as taking into account the impact of Coronavirus on tenants’ circumstances.
Frankel says: “The pandemic has left many people unemployed, furloughed on reduced pay or even having to wind up their businesses. As such, many have been financially impacted and this is something the court is required to take into account when considering any possession claim regardless of notice route or ground.
“There is also the new practice direction 55C (PD55C) under the Civil Procedure Rules in support of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to consider, which has recently been amended to remain in force until 30 July 2021.”
Frankel says another important change has been the length of notice landlords must give on a s21, and s8, which must be at least six months, if given after August 29 2020.
He continues: “While appreciating the genuine difficulties faced by tenants, it can also be a huge financial impact for the landlord where tenants are not paying rent or continue to damage the property, to have six months’ notice to work through.”
Frankel reiterates that the main issue for a landlord regardless of when they first issued their possession claim, is that they must provide a notice setting out the knowledge that they have as to the effects of Covid-19 on the defendant tenant and their dependants.
He says: “This is why it’s important to work with a specialist firm of solicitors which can assist landlords at all stages of possession proceedings. It is key in helping identify the strongest ground to argue, understanding the formalities of serving notices and what next steps are available to you since the introduction of Covid-19 legislation to have that expertise onside.
“But at the same time, landlords should not lose all hope in being able to take possession back of their properties, as the court will also take into account the impact the landlord has experienced due to the pandemic. For example, where a tenant is not paying rent and this is a key source of income for a landlord to be able to afford their own homes, it has to be considered by the court.”