Ban on evictions extended until 31 March

The Government has just announced that the recent ban on residential property bailiff evictions has been extended for a third time in England and Wales.

The eviction ban was put in place between 11 December 2020 and 11 January 2021 to protect tenants over the Christmas period. In light of the latest lockdown, this was extended and was due to end on 21st February.

Tenants have now been afforded further protection until 31st March. It should be noted however that there are exceptions to the ban including illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more.

What does the ban actually mean?

A bailiff eviction is the final stage of a landlord obtaining possession of their property from a tenant. There is a legal process that a landlord must first follow before a bailiff eviction can be carried out.

First, a landlord must serve notice requiring possession of the property on the tenant. Pre Coronavirus, the maximum length of notice a tenant had to be given was 2 months.  The Coronavirus Act 2020 was amended in August 2020 to require landlords to give a minimum period of 6 months’ notice.

The 6 months’ notice period requirement currently remains in force until 31 March 2021. This may be further extended. As with the bailiff eviction, there are exceptions where a shorter notice period can apply, including illegal use of the property, anti-social behaviour or rent arrears of 6 months or more.

If a tenant does not leave after the expiry of the notice, a landlord must issue court proceedings to obtain a ‘Possession Order’. Landlords were unable to commence court proceedings (or continue with existing possession proceedings) from 27 March 2020 but this suspension was lifted on 20 September 2020 meaning landlords can now issue court proceedings.

Once a possession order is obtained, and the date the tenant is required to vacate the property by has passed, the landlord is then entitled to apply for a ‘Warrant of Possession’ which instructs a bailiff to lawfully evict the tenant. The bailiff will supply to the tenant a notice of eviction confirming what date and time they will be attending the property. It is this final process that is currently not permitted in England and Wales until at least 1st April 2021.

The process of evicting a tenant, or being evicted, can be stressful and it is important to get it right.

At Temple Heelis we act for both landlords and tenants in residential property matters and offer a free initial consultation. To find out more and to hear about our fixed fee pricing structures for advice on the service of notices, and issuing court proceedings for possession, please contact Laura Bright, Richard Moore or John Sim.