Despite lockdown restrictions easing and a small sense of normality returning to our lives (with the long-awaited re-opening of drive thru McDonalds and Primark causing a frenzy for the nation) there are unfortunately many people who are still unable to return to work and some who have already been made redundant.
In order to protect those people who will undoubtedly be facing financial worries, the Government has extended the stay on possession proceedings for a further eight weeks, until 23 August 2020.
We previously reported on this issue in April, after the Government brought in emergency legislation under Practice Direction 51Z on 27 March 2020 preventing Landlords obtaining possession of properties or enforcing possession orders already obtained for a period of 90 days. The stay not only applies to residential tenants but also to commercial tenants, licencees and homeowners whose properties are subject to a mortgage.
Since the implementation of the stay, the Government was forced to exclude action against trespassers i.e. those who do not have the owner's permission to be on the land, from the stay to allow landowners to protect their land.
The extension to the current stay will have effect on 25 June 2020, and there will be some further changes to the legislation as follows:
- The stay on possession proceedings will be in place until 23 August 2020;
- Claims may still be brought during the stay although no action will be taken on them.
The extension is likely to be welcomed by millions of renters in the UK, but where does this leave landlords who may be struggling to keep up with mortgage repayments?
Whilst the current legislation prevents landlords from obtaining possession of the property if tenants fall behind with rent, landlords are still free to pursue tenants for rent arrears by way of a money claim which may be a viable option.
Alternatively, landlords should explore other practical solutions, for example, speaking to their lender to seek a mortgage holiday until tenants are able to meet the rent, reviewing any landlord and tenant insurance policy which may provide cover for unpaid rent, and agreeing a rent reduction or temporary rent holiday with the tenant for the rent owing to be paid at a later date.
The emergency legislation is of course a temporary measure designed to meet the exceptional circumstances the nation finds itself in.
As a firm we continue to closely monitor the Government's guidance and our team of experts are on hand to offer advice to landlords and tenants during this difficult time. The Government is likely to carry out a further review in early August and our team will provide a further update.
If you are a landlord, tenant or homeowner concerned about the current legislation and your situation, our dedicated team is on hand to provide expert advice to you. For more information on the Landlord and Tenant services we offer, please visit our dedicated webpage.
For more information or to discuss your individual circumstances in further detail, contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form on our website. To comply with social distancing rules, our team can offer telephone or video appointments from the comfort of your home.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.