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Civil procedure rule changes - possession claims

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Last updated and correct as of 12th March 2021.

In August 2020, Civil Procedure Rule Practice Direction 55C was introduced. CPR 55C provides a temporary modification to the CPR 55 possession claims procedure and was originally due to apply from 20 September 2020 to 28 March 2021. It was introduced to assist the Courts in managing the backlog of possession claims following the expiry of the general stay on possessions which expired in September 2020. 

CPR 55C sets out the procedural steps required to reactivate stayed possession claims, as well as introducing procedural changes applying both to existing claims and the issue of new possession claims. Steps include the requirement to serve a Reactivation Notice before a stayed claim is listed, relisted or heard as well as requiring landlords to provide additional information to the Court as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the tenant and any dependents. 

On 29 January 2021 these temporary measures were extended to 30 July 2021.

Residential Possessions/Notices for Possession

On 10 March 2021, the government announced that the increased notice periods to be given to residential tenants will continue to apply until at least 31 May 2021.

In brief, landlords must provide tenants with no less than 6 months notice for a section 21 notice (as a reminder, section 21 notices cannot be served within the first 4 months of the tenancy). The notice period for the majority of section 8 notices is currently 6 months. However, there are some exceptions to the rule, such as where notice is served on grounds relating to rent arrears. In those circumstances, the notice period is 4 weeks where the tenant is in at least 6 months’ rent arrears.

Extension on the Ban on Evictions

A “winter truce” on the enforcement of possession orders (subject to a few exemptions) was introduced by the Government late last year. This means that enforcement officers are unable to serve a notice of eviction on tenants or execute a writ or warrant of possession for a temporary period. This was originally due to apply until 11 January 2021 and had been extended until 21 February 2021, but this has been extended again until 31 March 2021.

This was originally due to apply until 11 January 2021 and had been extended until 21 February 2021.  It was subsequently extended to 31 March 2021 and as of 10 March 2021 has been extended further to 31 May 2021.

The government has reiterated in their most recent press release of 10 March 2021 that any tenants who are able to pay their rent should continue to do so.

Forfeiture of Commercial Leases

Section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 prevents forfeiture of commercial leases between 26 March 2020 and 30 June 2021 on the basis of non-payment of rent.  The further extension was announced on 10 March 2021.

Proceedings for possession which were issued prior to 3 August 2020 and any new claims issued from this date onwards are subject to PD 55C and additional procedural steps will be required in order to progress those claims (as set out above).

Landlords are not restricted in forfeiting a tenant’s lease for other breaches. The restriction is solely in relation to non payment of rent.

Other Press Release Highlights

A Statutory Instrument to extend the restriction on the use of the Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) will shortly be introduced.  It will increase the total number of days’ outstanding rent required for CRAR to be used to 457 days’ between 25 March and 23 June, and 554 days’ between the 24 and 30 June.

Finally, the press release has reiterated the government's intention to carry out a review of commercial landlord and tenant legislation, including Part 2 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, indicating that this will be launched later this year.

Goodman Derrick – Real Estate Dispute Resolution

Our Real Estate Dispute Resolution team has a wealth of experience in both the commercial and residential property sectors, the group:

  • Ensures that problems are resolved in the most cost effective way and at the earliest stage
  • Advise commercial clients on every type of landlord and tenant dispute in relation to both freehold and leasehold property
  • Clients include nationwide retail chains, property developers, investors and managers of substantial portfolios
  • Routinely assist with resolving disputes concerning service charges, covenants, agreements, and forfeiture

More information

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice. If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.