Q: Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, I served a section 21 and section 8 notice upon my tenant. Both notices have now expired and the tenant is still residing in the property. Am I able to go ahead now and issue Court Proceedings to obtain an Order for Possession?
A: Ordinarily, once a notice seeking possession has expired a Landlord would be able to issue court proceedings to evict the tenant and regain possession of the property. However, the Coronavirus Act 2020 now provides additional protection to Tenants by suspending all new and ongoing possession proceedings. From 27th March 2020, all ongoing possession proceedings were suspended for 90 days and no new possession proceedings are being processed. Therefore, you will not be able to issue possession proceedings until at least 26th June 2020. This may be even further extended by the Government.
If your tenant has not vacated the property, you are unable to evict the tenant without a court order. If you changed the locks this would be considered as an illegal eviction and the tenant would have recourse to the court, with you being at risk to pay legal costs and compensation. The tenant should continue to pay rent until they can vacate the property. It may be that they are willing to move as soon as they are able. If rent is not paid, then you will be able to issue to proceedings for both a possession order and Judgment for the arrears of rent as soon as the suspension is lifted.
The rules regarding eviction notice and possession proceedings are complicated and even more so at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so seeking advice from a Solicitor who is experienced in Landlord and Tenant matters would be wise.
This question has been answered by Rod Waters a Senior Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the ‘Contact us’ form on the website or call 01978 291456. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and whilst our colleagues are well equipped to work remotely, due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.