Amy Castleman

01733 887746 arcastleman@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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Kirstie Goulder

+44 (0)1733 887682 kgoulder@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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Possession proceedings to resume from 24 August 2020

Coronavirus / 08 July 2020

In ‘Private Rented Housing: Coronavirus: Written Questions’ last week, a government minister confirmed that from 24 August 2020, the courts will begin to process possession cases again.

This is welcome news for property guardian companies and building owners as it protects your important right to regain property. Work is underway with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements. These arrangements will include discussions about ensuring the judge is provided with all the necessary information to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants/licensees can get the help they need when possession cases resume.

Inside Housing reported earlier this week that more than 225,000 private renters are at risk of being evicted due to rent arrears when possession proceedings resume next more, new research by Shelter has found. Many property guardian companies will no doubt face similar issues with guardians in arrears, so consider taking steps to get getting your house in order now, including (if you haven’t already done so):

  • Checking systems to identify those individuals in breach of licence agreements, either due to arrears or otherwise;
  • Communicating with those individuals to understand the reason for the breach/es. For example, have they been made redundant or furloughed affecting their ability to pay licence fees in full? Could you negotiate a payment plan to help get them back on track to avoid a lengthy court process to recover possession with the prospect of receiving no licence fees?
  • Absent good reason for the breach/es or an agreed payment plan, consider serving a valid Notice To Determine on the property guardian now to start the clock running; and
  • If the property guardian fails to vacate pursuant to the Notice, consider issuing possession proceedings against them as soon as possible.  Whilst the court is imposing a stay on any claim that is issued before 23 August 2020, after this date, we anticipate the court will deal with claims in the date order they were received.  The court is likely to experience significant delays.

If you need help serving Notices to Determine and/or issuing proceedings against a guardian who is in breach of their licence agreement for licence fee arrears or otherwise, please get in touch with our experienced Property Guardianship team without delay as we expect high volumes of enquiries in the coming weeks.

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