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COVID-19 – Evictions under the current pandemic

Picture by Gareth Jones

When national lockdown rules were implemented in March, the Government introduced a range of new measures to help protect people by enacting the Coronavirus Act 2020.

One of the measures introduced was a pause on all housing possession claims for 90 days, known as a moratorium. This is to ensure the safety of the public during the pandemic by protecting those who were at imminent risk of being evicted. Also, those facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic could seek a mortgage holiday from their mortgage provider.

Landlords are still able to provide tenants with a specific notice to leave a property provided there are grounds to do so. Possession of a residential property is most often sought on two grounds:-

Rent Arrears – if the Tenant is in arrears of over 2 months of rent then the landlord can seek possession. The minimum notice period required is 14 days; or

Expiry of fixed term – if the initial fixed term set out within the tenancy agreement has expired (or is due to expire) then the landlord can seek possession. The minimum notice period required is two months.

If the notice period expires and the tenant fails to leave the property, after the moratorium has been lifted the landlord can then apply to court for vacant possession of the property.

The current financial uncertainty will likely see a turbulent time for housing cases when the moratorium lifts. Regardless of the circumstances, tenants will need to be aware that some landlords may seek possession in order to sell the property. Similarly, landlords may need to work with their tenants if payment of rent becomes an issue. If arrears cannot be cleared, difficult decisions may then need to be made.

With the current moratorium in place until 25th June, the government is shortly due to announce whether the moratorium will be extended or lifted. We aim to provide more guidance and information when it becomes available.

If you require assistance in gaining possession of your property, or if you have received a notice to vacate your property and are unsure what steps to take next, then you may benefit from taking specialised legal advice.

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