Property Litigation FAQs
During this time of uncertainty, Barcan+Kirby’s Property Litigation solicitors continue to advise landlords, letting agents and tenants in all areas of property law.
Many of the questions our litigation team are being asked are from tenants who are struggling to pay their rent due to a change in their employment circumstances and from landlords whose tenants cannot pay their monthly amount and, in turn, are left without an income. Some of our frequently asked questions are below, and which our expert team have answered as best they can in this ever-changing climate.
What does The Coronavirus Act 2020 mean for residential landlords and tenants?
The government has announced The Coronavirus Act 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The main changes for residential tenancies in England are:
- From 29th August 2020, landlords must give tenants six months’ notice when seeking possession (except in very few circumstances).
- This remains the position until 31st May 2021.
The Act does not have a retrospective effect and therefore, possession could continue in respect of notices already issued.
The Act still does not include excluded tenancies.
Can landlords go ahead with possession proceedings?
The suspension on procession proceedings expired on 20th September 2020. Therefore, possession proceedings are now continuing. However, for proceedings issued prior to 3rd August 2020, a re-activation notice is required. This notice must be filed by 30th April 2021, otherwise the claim remains stayed.
All proceedings issued since 3rd August 2020 continue to proceed, however, some procedural changes are in place and the impact of the coronavirus on the parties is required to the court in terms of priority of the case.
Despite this, a pause on evictions remains until the end of May 2021, except in exceptional circumstances, one exception being substantial rent arrears.
If you, as a landlord, have a possession order and the tenant doesn’t leave the property, you would normally obtain a warrant and an appointment for the bailiffs to attend and evict. It is the bailiff appointments that remain paused.
So, although landlords may have a possession order, they cannot enforce the order (if possession is not provided).
In line with the Government’s lockdown rules, emergency repair obligations should still be met and any unnecessary visits should be rearranged.
How will business premises be affected by The Coronavirus Act 2020?
The Act provides generous protection to tenants of commercial property tenancies. In summary:
- Commercial landlords cannot enforce their right of re-entry or forfeiture due to non-payment of rent in any way until (at least) 30th June 2021.
- Within current litigation relating to forfeiture for rent arrears, the tenant cannot be evicted until (at least) 30th June 2021.
Despite the above, forfeiture by peaceable re-entry is still available to commercial landlords where tenants are in breach and such breaches are unrelated to non-payment of rent or other sums due under their lease.
This seems to be a rent deferment for business tenants, however, the rent is still contractually payable. It is not a rent-free period. Landlords and tenants are encouraged to communicate.