08/01/2021

Eviction Stay Redux

Breaking with the tradition of laying such regulations on a Friday evening the day before they come into effect, the Govt has laid The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 on the Friday lunchtime. These regulations extend the halt on evictions to 21 February 2021 and come into effect on 11 January 2021.

However, there is one significant change from The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 which expire on 11 January 2020.

One of the exceptions to the ban on evictions is now stated to be where the Court is satisfied that

the case involves substantial rent arrears; 

‘Substantial rent arrears’ are defined as

 a case involves substantial rent arrears if the amount of unpaid rent arrears outstanding is at least an amount equivalent to 6 months’ rent.

And that is it. There is a change from 9 months arrears to six months arrears, and, unlike the previous regulations, there is no stipulation that the amount of arrears must be at the date of the possession order, and there is no stipulation that arrears after 23 March can’t be counted.

On this wording, I think a case could involve ‘substantial rent arrears’ if the outstanding arrears are 6 months at the point of application for a warrant, regardless of when the arrears accrued. This means that arrears arising from the impact of coronavirus would be counted.

 

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

9 Comments

  1. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    Can I ask a really dumb question this late in the day? Obviously claims prompted by s8 notices but what about s21 claims where there are 6 month’s rent arrears in the background?

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      I’d say doubtful. Not arrears involved in the case.

      Reply
  2. Ben Reeve Lewis

    Great. There’s always this disparity where homelessness units can presume IH. On S 21 claims where there arrears but if we can keep it simply to s8 claims that will at least help, at least for defeating possession claims. Well worry about HPUs further down the line

    Reply
    • James Stark

      Homeless units should never be allowed to presume IH . In particular in current situation Samuels-vBirmingham CC should be applied strictly.

      Reply
  3. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    But many HPUs DO presume homelessness where there are rent arrears in s21 cases. My understanding of Samuels is that it was to do with a wrong interpretation of her position over income, not the basic principle that HPUs will often make a finding of IH where there are rent arrears, even though possession wasnt granted on that basis. What the law says and how things get conducted in the real world arent always the same thing. I’ll stick with the practicalities for now

    Reply
  4. John

    Giles, Ben R-L, don’t worry, the Courts are doing an exemplary job in delaying evictions. Even if you have a WoP granted in mid October with egregious rent arrears as the reason for demanding eviction, they have still managed to drag the matter out until now. They even managed to “overlook” two perfectly valid N244 applications for 28 days because they “forgot” to take the Court fees from the solicitors account. The matter is now before a judge, who unfortunately “is not a housing expert” and therefore has to seek advice from others who are housing experts, therefore further delaying the matter for another fortnight already. It is impossible for them to be this incompetent, these acts have to be deliberate and therefore where are these instructions coming from???

    Reply
  5. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    Yeah its a mistake to think that judges are totally impartial. People not used to court may well presume this to be the case. About 10 years ago I used to do Lewisham council’s mortgage rescue scheme and was in Bromley, Lambeth and Woolwich courts several time a month. Judges were never shy in letting their personal thoughts leak into cases. Essentially defending mortgage possession cases was like shooting fish in a barrel because judges had no time for lenders and made their feelings openly known.

    Judges cant strike or complain on twitter but when you are in front of them, they make their thoughts clear. I have no doubt that many DJs will be acting as disrupters, from both angles.

    Reply
    • Claire Pearce-Crawford

      WALES
      New regulations have been issued that extend the ban on the enforcement of eviction action in Wales until 31 March 2021 in response to the threat to public health posed by the incidence and spread of Covid-19.

      In force from 11 January 2021 and expiring on 31 March 2021, the Public Health (Protection from Eviction) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 (SI.No.12/2021) re-enact the Public Health (Protection from Eviction) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (SI.No.1490/2020) – which came into force on 11 December 2020 and will expire on 11 January 2021 – so as to continue to prevent, except in specified circumstances, attendance at a dwelling-house for the purpose of executing a writ or warrant of possession, executing a writ or warrant of restitution or delivering a notice of eviction.

      The specified circumstances are where the court is satisfied that the claim is against trespassers who are persons unknown or where it was made wholly or partly on the grounds of domestic violence, serious offences, anti-social behaviour, nuisance or, in cases where the person attending is satisfied that the dwelling-house is unoccupied at the time of attendance, the death of the occupant.

      SI.No.12/2021 is available from legislation.gov.uk

      Reply
    • John

      Thing is, now we’ve moved from “disruptive” to a choice between “deliberately incompetent” or “unlawful”, there is no other explanation in my case. We qualify to evict under both sets of regulations, (2020 AND 2021) yet the clown of a district judge stays our application to evict. That’s before it even gets to the bailiffs, who no doubt, will “lose” or “overlook” or “mislay” the paper work.

      Reply

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