In case you hadn’t seen it already, HMCTS are publishing a daily operational summary on courts and tribunals during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This includes civil (County) court listing priorities. As of 15 April 2020, “Priority 1 – work that must be done” includes:
Injunctions (and return dates for ex parte injunctions) – with a real time element, such as noise or interference with property
Anti-Social Behaviour/Harassment injunctions (not ancillary to possession)
Applications to stay enforcement of existing possession orders
Any applications in cases listed for trial in the next three months
Any applications where there is a substantial hearing listed in the next month.
All Multi Track hearings where parties agree that it is urgent (subject to triage).
Appeals in all these cases
“Priority 2 – work that may be done” includes:
Infant and Protected Party approvals (children could attend by Skype)
Applications for summary judgement for a specified sum
Applications to set aside judgement in default
Applications for security for costs
All small claim/fast track trials where parties agree it is urgent (subject to triage)
Preliminary assessment of costs
Appeals in all these cases
Anything else, it appears, is unlikely to happen. Which is not quite my experience so far.
For many, many months, this site has had a least one person arrive via a search for “how to take my ex off the tenancy”, or “can my ex take my tenancy” or “who will get my flat if we break up” or many other variations on the same theme. The ‘take their name off the tenancy’ kind of search is particularly common. It struck me that there is not much in the way of simple information about what happens to tenancies in a relationship breakdown out there (partly because it is sometimes horribly complicated). Even the DWP is confused, calling a situation where one joint tenant has left an ‘untidy tenancy’, and refusing to cover the remaining tenant for the full rent, despite their full (joint and several) liability for it and that being The Law.
The upshot, after a long bank holiday weekend not going anywhere, is a Relationship Breakdown and Tenancies FAQ. This is not detailed, there are far too many housing and family law complications to go into, but it is intended to set out the basic position – what might need to be done, and done urgently, and what can’t be done – for a non-legal audience (and some advisors and lawyers may also find it useful). I’ve included some links to sources of advice and support, particularly for those facing domestic abuse, where the housing situation is most urgent and difficult. Any corrections welcome.
What it does illustrate is that there is a difficult point where housing law problems only have family law solutions, and that perhaps (and I include myself in this) neither housing lawyers or family lawyers are, (generally and with lots of exceptions), quite alert to the complexities. Eg Matrimonial Causes Act only works where a tenancy is capable of being assigned – and not all tenancies can be assigned. I do think a legal guide for both family and housing lawyers might be a good idea. If anyone else wants to pick up that idea and run with it, they are very welcome…