‘Severe arrears’ now just cause for bailiff-enforced evictons

There’s been a further tweak to the eviction controls introduced in England for the duration of the lockdown, lasting until December 2.

There has been substantial publicity for what is effectively a ban on evictions, which followed a letter from government to bailiff authorities asking them not to en force possession cases during the lockdown.

But from today possession cases with severe rent arrears WILL be exempt from the effective ban; this means that bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers can move to enforce warrants and complete evictions.

However, this will only apply to cases where the equivalent of nine months’ rent arrears had been built up before March 23 this year, when the UK went into national lockdown.

Paul Shamplina, founder of landlord and tenant solicitors’ firm Landlord Action says: “This is very welcome news for those landlords whose tenants had stopped paying rent months prior to the pandemic and, until now, had been given carte blanche to continue living rent free. However, there are concerns about how long it will take those landlords, whose arrears cases fall short of the government’s definition of ‘substantial’ – ie, nine months, to regain possession.”

The eviction ban started in March and ended in September, only to be reinstated in areas classified as Covid risk Tier 2 or Tier 3.

On November 5 the government said renters would be protected during the second [England] restrictions with no bailiff enforcement action, except for the most egregious cases such as anti-social behaviour.

The statement also said that an exemption would be introduced for extreme pre-Covid rent arrears cases, which has been announced today.

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