Extension of Stay to Existing and New Possession
On Friday 21 August, it was announced that the ban on possession proceedings has been extended to 20 September 2020.
There is no question that this is a pragmatic and humane decision by the government with best intentions and with public health and sensibilities at its core. Many people impacted by the pandemic will obtain some additional relief.
Some, whose problems pre-date the pandemic or who have not been impacted in the same way, will gain some additional forbearance. Our understanding is that the original stay was designed to help those blocked from moving or relocating by the lockdown or whose capability to service rent or mortgages had been removed or reduced.
However, this extension runs counter to the general policy of bringing the country back to normality and re-establishing the economic and commercial status quo. For people without health or shielding issues, there is less of a problem today, and the evident recovery in the housing market and number of people moving home in recent months is proof of normality returning.
There is no doubt that many need protection in their homes, but others also need protection. There are unintended consequences of this last minute, broad brush extension which, like much else, has perhaps been done without full consideration for all stakeholders.
The stay will have a significant impact, for example, where:
- Possession orders had already been issued pre-lockdown, for perfectly valid reasons
- Landlords cannot recover possession from tenants who were already in significant arrears or had other significant breaches of tenancy agreements, pre-lockdown
- Landlords are receiving no income but may still be liable for repairs, insurance, service charges and their own debt repayments.
- Landlords need to move back into their own homes
- The occupants had no right to be in the property in the first place
Covid 19 was hardly a pre-planned event, but deadlines like this have been known about for months and for some people, the difficulties are simply being extended. Furthermore, the backlog of cases faced by the courts will continue to grow.
Solicitors cannot commence or continue possession proceedings but the preparatory work can be done in advance such as drafting witness statements.
Strettons have had success working with solicitors to get the occupiers to voluntarily vacate during lockdown while possession proceedings were not running. This expedited a sale of a flat and helped to repay the loan for a lender faster than waiting for the court proceedings to re-open.
For more information, please contact:
Registered Fixed Charge Receiver