The government has announced that the evictions ban which was due to expire on 11 January 2021 has been extended for Both England and Wales.
For England, the evictions ban now ends on 21 February 2021 although could be extended further.
The regulations bringing this change are The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021.
As before, there are a number of cases which are exempt from the suspension meaning the bailiff may nevertheless attend including if possession was ordered under anti-social behaviour grounds. In an unexpected move, the new regulations allow a bailiff to attend if the amount of rent arrears is six months or more and possession was obtained on rent arrears grounds.
(3) Paragraph (1) does not apply where the court is satisfied that—
(a) the case involves substantial rent arrears; and
(b) the notice, writ or warrant relates to an order for possession made wholly or partly—
(ii) on Ground 8, Ground 10 or Ground 11 in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988; …
(4) For the purposes of paragraph (3), a case involves substantial rent arrears if the amount of unpaid rent arrears outstanding is at least an amount equivalent to 6 months’ rent.
Under the previous rules, it was at least 9 months arrears not including arrears accrued from 23 March 2020.
There is no change to the length of notice required to be given which is set to expire on 31 March 2021 (but could be further extended). In most cases, the length of notice remains at six months.
In the government announcement, it was also said that there is to be a new “mediation pilot” from February 2021.
A new mediation pilot will further support landlords and renters who face court procedures and potential eviction from next month (February). It will offer mediation as part of the possession process to try and help landlords and tenants to reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes.
Helping to resolve disputes through mediation will enable courts to prioritise urgent cases, supporting landlords and tenants to resolve issues quickly without the need for a formal hearing. The mediation pilot will work within the existing court arrangements in England and Wales.
For Wales, the suspension ends 31 March 2021 although there is to be a review by 28 January and at least once every 21 days thereafter.
The regulations bringing in this extension are The Public Health (Protection from Eviction) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021.
Unlike England, there’s no exemption to the eviction ban for rent arrears. There however remains exemptions where possession was sought on anti-social behaviour grounds as before.
The minister’s statement says:
The Regulations replicate in substance the Public Health (Protection from Eviction) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 that expire on 11 January and prevent, except in specified circumstances, attendance at a dwelling-house for the purpose of executing a writ or warrant of possession, executing a writ or warrant of restitution or delivering a notice of eviction. The specified circumstances are where the court is satisfied that: the claim is against trespassers who are persons unknown; or where the order for possession was made wholly or partly on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, serious offences, nuisance, domestic violence; or, in cases where the person attending is satisfied that the dwelling-house is unoccupied at the time of attendance, and the possession order was made wholly or partly on the grounds of the death of the occupant.
There is no change to the length of notice required to be given which is set to expire on 31 March 2021 (but could be further extended). In most cases, the length of notice remains at six months notice.