Update on Residential Possession Proceedings

Elizabeth Shaw, director at Wake Smith Solicitors looks at the latest updates on residential possession proceedings.

Five more days remains on the ‘stay’ on possession cases in the Courts.

It was due to end on on 23 August, but instead it was extended for 4 weeks and will now expire on 20 September 2020.

A new Practice Direction CPR55C provides that the claimant must inform the court if it wishes to resume the stayed possession proceedings. 

The new procedure in PD55C will be in force from 20 September 2020 to 28 March 2021. 

The claimant must also inform the defendants at the same time using a Reactivation Notice which can be served after 20 September 2020.  If the possession claim relates to arrears of rent, the landlord must provide an updated rent account for the previous two years.

The changes from CPR55C provide that:-

The claimant must provide in the Reactivation Notice or for the hearing any relevant information about the defendant’s circumstances including information about the effect of the pandemic on the defendant and his or her dependents.  The Court has to take into account the vulnerability, disability and social security position of the tenants and any tenants who are shielding.  The claimant has to produce the full arrears history in advance rather than at the hearing itself.  If no Reactivation Notice is received by 29 January 2021 the Claim will be automatically stayed.

The court’s powers will be extended during the temporary period to allow the court to fix a hearing date on or after issue so that hearings can be appropriately spread and to avoid bunching.

To suspend the standard period for standard possession claims between issue of the claim form and the hearing which is usually not more than eight weeks again to spread out hearings to have regard to the court’s capacity.

From that, landlords will see that it will be helpful to the court and to their position to provide as much information in their Reactivation Notice as possible.  If the landlord does not supply the information requested, it is likely that the hearing will be adjourned at the first hearing date once the stay is lifted and/or at worst, struck out.

Given that the court is going to take into account the vulnerability, disability and social security position of the tenant there is enhanced scope for the tenant to argue that it is not reasonable for the court to order possession.

It is expected that there will inevitably be a backlog of claims in the courts as all possession claims have been stayed since 27 March 2020.

For further information contact Elizabeth Shaw at elizabeth.shaw@wake-smith.com

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