Last updated: 15th February 2021
The Government has announced that the eviction ban will be further extended until 31st March 2021.
The move, which is the latest extension to a ban that started in late 2020, means that landlords continue to remain unable to evict residential tenants. The previous extension was due to expire on 22nd February 2021.
The Regulations state that it is unlawful to attend a residential property to either carry out an eviction or give notice of an eviction unless specific exceptional circumstances applies. These exceptional circumstances include substantial rent arrears. For much of 2020, rent arrears accrued since March 2020 had been excluded but the definition was changed in January so that outstanding rent arrears are now defined as 6 months unpaid rent.
Exceptional circumstances also include anti-social behaviour and a number of other limited reasons.
The Regulations apply only to evictions. Other aspects of the possession procedure, such as Court proceedings to get a possession order, will continue during the lockdown. However, even if an order is granted, most landlords will be unable to physically obtain possession until the ban is lifted.
Landlords who may consider circumventing the ban for example, by trying to evict tenants themselves, would be acting unlawfully and would place themselves at risk of a claim being made against them by their tenants for unlawful eviction. They may also be committing a criminal offence.
Despite the ban, there is no general prohibition on moving home, which is still permitted under current lockdown regulations. A tenant can still therefore leave a rental property at their own accord through voluntarily surrender of tenancy without either party being in breach of the Regulations.
The change now brings England into line with the other devolved nations, with Scotland and Wales having previously extended their bans on evictions until 31st March 2021 in January. A further ban cannot be ruled out, although whether this likely to occur is unlikely to become clear until late March.
If you are a landlord looking to obtain possession, our Dispute Resolution Solicitor, Chris Miller, would be pleased to advise you. We offer a £95 fixed fee meeting to provide initial advice on your options. For more information, or to book a meeting, please contact us on 01189589711 or e-mail [email protected].
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Chris Miller works alongside Justin Sadler in the Litigation Department on a wide range of civil litigation matters including Debt Collection and possession claims, as well as assisting with contentious probate matters.