Insights

Covid Pandemic and possession proceedings - A return to normality but for how long?

Luis Ngugi, our new litigation solicitor who deals with landlord and tenant issues, highlights the advantages of the accelerated possession procedure for private residential landlords.

The effect of the covid pandemic has meant that possession proceedings have been stayed for long periods of time preventing landlords from obtaining possession and incurring loss of rent from difficult tenants. However, from 1 October 2021 all notice periods have returned to pre pandemic levels. This means that the minimum notice required for a section 21 notice has been reset to two months.

Due to covid regulations the landlord must also provide a covid notice when issuing the claim. In summary it is any knowledge the landlord has on the effects that the Covid Pandemic has had on the Tenant. This is a temporary requirement due to be removed later in June

The accelerated possession procedure is the most efficient and cost-effective way of obtaining possession in residential cases. Providing the section 21 notice is valid and the claim is issued, the default position is that there is no hearing which streamlines the eviction process.

For a landlord to obtain possession by this method, the tenancy must be an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) which is commonly used by Landlords. This procedure cannot be used by Landlords wishing to claim rent arrears. However, it does not prevent a Landlord from issuing a separate action to seek rent arrears.

Landlords must comply with their responsibilities to the tenant throughout the tenancy, for example, keeping up to date with gas certificates and ensuring all the relevant prescribed information and documents are provided to the tenant prior to serving the section 21 notice. Failure to do so can invalidate the claim resulting in escalating costs, adverse costs orders and delays in obtaining possession. It can also be problematic if a landlord is looking to sell the property and wants to do so with vacant possession.

The government has recently published the levelling up policy which proposes the removal of this procedure. A white paper is due to be published in the spring of this year. Now is the best time to act and take advantage of this method of eviction whilst it is still available.

We are best placed to help landlords through this process from the beginning to include drafting/reviewing the section 21 notice, attending any hearings and through to instructing bailiffs if required. Our expertise and attention to detail will ensure that you receive excellent service and a successful outcome.

If you need advice in relation to this and issuing possession proceedings, we can help. We will work with you to review all the documents and assess your position to determine the best possible method of obtaining possession.

For further information call Luis Ngugi on 01689887803 or by email luis.ngugi@cwj.co.uk.

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Although correct at the time of publication, the contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Please contact us for the latest legal position.