Possession claims during Covid-19

Covid-19 will result in many more landlords encountering tenants who are unable to pay their rent and other related issues in the coming weeks and months. Landlord and Tenant solicitor, David Paull, takes a closer look at how the courts are dealing with possession claims during the crisis.

Possession claims during the Covid-19 crisis

We specialise in both residential and commercial property disputes throughout Devon, Somerset and beyond. Contact us for a free case assessment. We will offer guidance on how to proceed, the steps that can be taken and the funding options available.

Following the Coronavirus Act 2020 and an update to the Civil Procedure Rules on 27 March 2020, evicting commercial tenants for rent arrears by peaceable re-entry is not lawfully permitted until after 30 June 2020 (subject to any extension) and any court proceedings seeking a possession order against commercial tenants or against residential tenants were to be suspended for 90 days. Claims for an injunction were not however suspended.

Accordingly, at that time, all existing or future possession claims under CPR Part 55 (which included claims against trespassers and/or squatters) would be suspended.

However a further amendment to the Civil Procedure Rules on 20 April 2020 now allows certain possession claims against trespassers and squatters in residential and commercial premises to proceed to a final hearing, where a possession order can be sought, as those claims are no longer suspended by the court. The wording of that amendment is set out below.

PRACTICE DIRECTION 51Z: STAY OF POSSESSION PROCEEDINGS, CORONAVIRUS

This Practice Direction supplements Part 51

  1. This practice direction is made under rule 51.2 of the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”). It is intended to assess modifications to the rules and Practice Directions that may be necessary during the Coronavirus pandemic and the need to ensure that the administration of justice, including the enforcement of orders, is carried out so as not to endanger public health. As such it makes provision to stay proceedings for, and to enforce, possession. It ceases to have effect on 30 October 2020.
  2. Subject to paragraph 2A, all proceedings for possession brought under CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession are stayed for a period of 90 days from the date this Direction comes into force.

2A.  Paragraph 2 does not apply to—

(a) a claim against trespassers to which rule 55.6 applies;
(b) an application for an interim possession order under Section III of Part 55, including the making of such an order, the hearing required by rule 55.25(4), and any application made under rule 55.28(1); or
(c) an application for case management directions which are agreed by all the parties.

  1. For the avoidance of doubt, claims for injunctive relief are not subject to the stay in paragraph 2, and the fact that a claim to which paragraph 2 applies will be stayed does not preclude the issue of such a claim.

Updated: Monday, 20 April 2020.

It is therefore very important to seek specialist legal advice as the status of a commercial or residential occupier is often unclear. They may be a tenant, lodger, licensee or trespasser, depending on the circumstances of each case and any landlord may be at risk of a claim for unlawful eviction or breach of contract from an occupier if a court order for possession is not obtained where lawfully required.

We can assist you with possession claims against trespassers and squatters as well as claims for injunctions and can offer a fixed fee service in appropriate cases.

We represent landlords throughout Devon, Somerset and beyond and specialise in possession claims. If you would like a free case assessment or wish to discuss your case then contact our free helpline on 0808 139 1606.

Lee Dawkins

Lee Dawkins

Lee Dawkins is the firm's marketing partner. Over the past 30 years he has overseen the expansion of the firm’s litigation department. He developed our personal injury and clinical negligence teams, creating various niche areas that now enjoy a national profile. He pioneered contentious probate, setting up a flourishing specialist department and established Slee Blackwell as a force within claimant professional negligence.
Lee Dawkins

Lee Dawkins

Lee Dawkins is the firm's marketing partner. Over the past 30 years he has overseen the expansion of the firm’s litigation department. He developed our personal injury and clinical negligence teams, creating various niche areas that now enjoy a national profile. He pioneered contentious probate, setting up a flourishing specialist department and established Slee Blackwell as a force within claimant professional negligence.

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Call the Slee Blackwell helpline on 0808 139 1606