Welcome to another Newsround.
Here we are on Friday 18 September and the courts are scheduled to start work on possession claims from Monday 21st.
Will there be another late U Turn imposing a further stay?
We wait with baited breath and an eye on twitter to find out. It looks however as if there is not going to be another stay although with this government you never can tell.
There are a lot of new rules, regs and guidance documents to absorb and I suspect that if the Courts were ordered to stay possession claims again, all those who have worked so hard on these Will Not Be Pleased.
So what are these new rules? Well I have not had time yet to absorb the very recent ones but you will find them all in a series of posts on Nearly Legal, the most recent one (as of now) being here.
You will (if you have a claim issued) be pleased to learn that there is now a precedent reactivation form plus various other forms which have now appeared on the page since I last looked at it a couple of days ago which are all here.
There is also a new guidance document here which you should read if you are involved in proceedings.
However I agree with Giles of Nearly Legal when he says that pretty much nothing is going to happen for the first couple of weeks. The courts will be going through all the paperwork which has stacked up over the months since proceedings were stayed back in March and prioritising the ones to be dealt with first.
These will be:
- Claims where a possession order had already been made back in March
- Claims involving anti-social behaviour and domestic violence, and
- Claims where there are very serious rent arrears which pre-date the coronavirus pandemic
- The government guide also mentions cases involving unlawful subletting, fraud, abandonment and the death of the tenant
After all those have been dealt with, the courts will then turn to proceedings which were issued before the stay began.
If you are a landlord looking to recover possession of your property and your claim does not fall into one of the priority areas, then you are unlikely to get your property back during 2020, or indeed for some time after. If you have not issued your proceedings yet you are probably looking at a wait of up to a year or longer.
Which is why you should consider mediation.
There is incidentally a very sensible Pre-Action Plan: Managing arrears and avoiding possession claims publishined by the National Residential Landlords Associaiotn which is highly recommended.
News from Wales
The Welsh Government have announed that notice periods for most situations will remain at six months until 31 March 2021 but “where the reason for giving notice relates to anti-social behaviour or domestic violence, notice periods will revert to the pre-Covid position”.
They have also announced:
- a new low interest loan for tenants in rent arrears or struggling to pay their rent arrears because of Covid-19. The loan will be paid directly to landlords or agents and can be repaid over a period of up to five years at a rate of 1% APR
- a private rented sector helpline run by Citizen Advice Cymru for tenants struggling with rent, income or housing benefits to advise tenants on ways in which they can maximise their income and manage debt – with a view to helping them pay their rent if they can and hold on to their tenancies.
The UK Government have been asked for similar loan arrangemnets for English tenants but nothing has been announced as at the time of writing this.
A rent freeze in London?
The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has asked for powers to prevent any rent increases for two years, claiming this is needed to prevent up to half a million evictions in London due to rent arrears accrued during the lockdown. Saying
The end of the furlough scheme means even more renters in the capital are now at risk of pay cuts or losing their job. Yet at every stage of this pandemic, renters have been treated as an afterthought by the government, with protection measures only ever rushed out at the last minute. This uncertainty is causing unnecessary anxiety and stress. If Berlin can freeze rents for five years, there’s no reason London shouldn’t be able to freeze rents for two years in these extraordinary times.
The Berlin rent freeze is stated in the Guardian to have been to slow gentrification however rather than being a COVID 19 related measure.
The view in the Guardian is that his request is unlikley to be granted.
Insurance Victory (sort of)
Regular readers may remember that many agents (and indeed other businesses) who had taken out business interruption policies had their claims refused by their insurers who claimed that the policies did not apply to a a government-imposed lockdown.
A test case was brought by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide clarity and Judgement has now been handed down which is largely in the claimants favour. The final result in each case will depend on the precise wording of the policies involved but it looks as if many claimints will now receive payouts.
Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive of the FCA, commented:
We brought the test case in order to resolve the lack of clarity and certainty that existed for many policyholders making business interruption claims and the wider market. We are pleased that the Court has substantially found in favour of the arguments we presented on the majority of the key issues. Today’s judgment is a significant step in resolving the uncertainty being faced by policyholders.
If you are one of those claimants you should be hearing something soon.
- Leading Conservative Peer says the treatment of landlords during Covid is ‘not what you’d expect from Tories’
- Why it’s time to regulate the UK’s unlicensed evictions specialists
- LandlordZONE: 80% of landlords we polled want the option to reject DSS tenants
- Report commissioned by The Lettings Industry Council warns banning Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions will harm those it seeks to help
Newsround will be back next week.