Residential property lawyer George Cohen at Irwin Mitchell says that there are potential legal issues regarding the lifting of the stay of residential possession proceedings and advises landlords to enter dialogue with tenants as soon as possible.
Cohen says: “Since 27 March 2020, most residential possession claims and proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession have been stayed (put on hold). On 23 August 2020, Practice Direction 55C will come into force which sets out how residential possession claims will resume.
The practice direction provides a welcome procedure for both “reactivating” and issuing claims after the stay is lifted. But landlords should be aware that whilst the stay ends on 23 August, they will still have to comply with the practice direction for all new claims issued on or after 3 August 2020.
“The key feature of this practice direction is that landlords will be required to file and serve a notice setting out what knowledge they have of how the tenant or their dependents have been affected by COVID-19. In the case of claims brought before 3 August 2020, which have been stayed, the notice will need to be filed and served to “reactivate” the claim. For any claims brought on or after 3 August 2020, the notice will need to be either filed with the claim form (section 21 claims) or brought to the possession hearing (section 8 claims) and served on the tenant 14 days beforehand.”