After much commentary in the housing press in recent days, we are aware that this morning, Friday 21 August 2020, the Civil Procedure Rules Committee approved a further amendment to the Court Rules, extending the current stay on possession proceedings until 20 September 2020. This is simply awaiting a Statutory Instrument to be laid by Parliament to bring the changes in; therefore, the position could change but the possibility of this is very slim.

The original possession stay was due to expire on Sunday 23 August 2020, so this is a very late U-turn by the Government, as preparations were well underway by Landlords and the Court Service alike to bring possession matters back into Court from Monday 24 August 2020.

This further stay applies to all possession claims. There had been some discussion that a further stay may only have extended to rent possession proceedings, meaning that all other possession claims; particularly those based on anti-social behaviour grounds; could have proceeded. This approach has not been adopted, however, and the amendments to the Court Rules as they currently stand extend a further blanket stay on all possession claims.

We are aware that many Landlords had been contacted by the County Courts they regularly use for lists of cases that should have been treated as a priority when the stay lifted. It is now important for Landlords to keep in touch with their local County Courts to make sure that any new cases that arise over the next month and which require priority listing are also confirmed to the Court.

At the present time, there does not appear to be any amendments made to the Reactivation Notice requirements which were previously incorporated into the Court Rules. For further details on these requirements, please see our previous e-briefings dated 22 July 2020 and 3 August 2020.

It should be noted that the requirement to give extended notice periods on possession notices served remain in place until 30 September 2020 as matters currently stand.

Landlords will need to continue to consider other options for tackling anti-social behaviour being reported to them, such as Injunctions and Closure Orders, during this extended stay period and perhaps well into the autumn whilst the Court Service tackle the enormous backlog that they must work through. Indications are that it may well take the Court Service close to 12 months to work through this backlog.

For more information

Should you have any queries regarding this further stay period, please contact Mrs Alex Loxton or any member of the Housing Litigation Team.