New information and guidance has been published by the Master of the Rolls and the Working Group on possession proceedings, following the expiry of the stay on residential possessions on 21 September 2020. The government has also published several new forms, notices and guidance for use in the proceedings themselves. Collectively these documents set out the new procedure for possession claims.
There are several important elements to digest in the various documents. Claimant landlords are now required to notify the court what effect (if any) the pandemic has had on their tenants and their dependants. Any claim that was brought before 3 August 2020 will require a Reactivation Notice before it can be considered by the court. The courts will no longer list matters for hearing when the claim forms are issued, and the 8 week target for listing no longer applies.
Instead, the court will provide the parties with a review date, when the claim will be considered by a Judge on the basis of the papers. The Claimant will have to file a court bundle 14 days prior to any review hearing. At this stage various directions will be made, and a substantive hearing will be set. The documents make it clear that the parties should try to agree directions and reach a compromise if possible, and access to legal advice for tenants/Defendants at the review and substantive hearings is carefully considered.
Undoubtedly the courts will be faced with a backlog of matters now that the stay on possession proceedings has ended. Priority will be given to certain cases, such as claims involving anti-social behaviour or where there are substantial rental arrears of 12 months or more.
The new procedure has only just come into play, and the stay on possession proceedings was ended just 1 week ago. It therefore remains to be seen just what kind of turnaround there will be for both old and new possession claims, and how the court system will cope. If you require detailed advice on the new procedures or any other matters arising then please contact Fiona Hannaford at [email protected]
The content of this article is correct as at the date of posting and is for information purposes only. Whilst we try and ensure it is accurate we do not warrant or guarantee that this is the case, nor do we accept any responsibility in the event that it is relied on. The information is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice which you are recommended to obtain.Back to News