The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 17 November 2020 and introduced a ban on residential evictions, which was initially due to end on 11 January 2021. The Regulations prohibit the delivery of a notice of eviction as well as the execution of a warrant or writ of possession in respect of residential properties save for the following exceptions where the possession order was based:
- upon a claim against trespassers
- wholly or partly under the absolute ground for possession for anti-social behaviour
- wholly or partly on possession grounds relating to anti-social behaviour, domestic violence or misrepresentation to obtain the tenancy
- on substantial rent arrears (an amount which was at least equivalent to 9 months' rent and accrued prior to 23 March 2020) and the order was made wholly or partly on grounds relating to arrears of rent.
In response to the implementation of a third national coronavirus lockdown the Government introduced The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021, which came into effect on 11 January 2021 and extended the ban on residential evictions until 21 February 2021.
The exceptions to the eviction ban remain, though it is now possible to evict tenants with 'substantial rent arrears' newly defined as 'at least an amount equivalent to 6 months’ rent'. It is also worth noting that there is now no stipulation about when these arrears were accrued i.e. prior to March 2020.
Given the uncertainty around COVID-19 and the efficacy of the current lockdown; or when the lockdown restrictions may be relaxed, it is worth keeping an eye out for further delays to the resumption of residential evictions. If the ban is however not extended past 21 February 2021, landlords with frozen evictions should ensure they write to the relevant County Court Bailiffs on 22 February 2021 requesting a new eviction appointment as a priority to mitigate further delay in recovering vacant possession.