Any leaseholder facing forfeiture – or tenant facing eviction – has been granted a 90-day reprieve owing to the coronavirus emergency.
But it should be clearly understood that this is simply a suspension of proceedings, which will resume.
The government was minded to act because it would be absurd to evict people at the same time as urging the wider public to stay at home.
The announcement came on the MHCLG website:
Government support available for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). With these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home. To ensure all renters are clear on the full package of support that is currently available to them, we are bringing this together into one place.
The statement says: “… this means that neither cases currently in the or any about to go in the system can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. This suspension of housing possessions action will initially last for 90 days, but this can be extended if needed. This measure will protect all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This will apply to both England and Wales.”
New Practice Direction 51Z to Stay Possession Proceedings The Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chancellor have signed Practice Direction 51Z (PD) in relation to housing possession proceedings during the Coronavirus pandemic. It follows the Coronavirus Act 2020 emergency legislation and complements the provisions herein to prevent imminent evictions and delay possession proceedings.
The issue has also been addressed by Giles Peaker, the landlord and tenant solicitor who publishes the website www.nearlylegal.co.uk:
All housing possession claims suspended from 27 March – Coronavirus update. – Nearly Legal: Housing Law News and Comment
Well now, this is big (and also finally, it would seem, some clarity). According to this MHCLG press release from this evening: From tomorrow (27 March 2020) following a decision by the Master of the Rolls with the Lord Chancellors (sic) agreement the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means …