Repossession limits lifted in courts
‘Overall arrangements’ limiting landlords’ ability to take back possession of their homes have come to end it has been announced.
Different levels of restrictions have been in place throughout the pandemic, with the courts closed completely for six months from March 2020.
A number of new procedures were introduced when they reopened in September last year which, combined with the backlog of cases that had built, led to significant delays in gaining possession.
What has changed?
Courts now no longer need to schedule two separate hearings (review and a substantive) before being able to issue a possession order.
Instead, landlords should only have one hearing, which should be scheduled within eight weeks of a claim.
As restrictions are wound down, cases will also be scheduled based on when the claim was made, rather than the circumstances of the case. This will be welcome news for landlords who served Section 21 notices, as they were the lowest priority cases.
Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Voss made the announcement following more than 18 months of upheaval.
NRLA Chief Executive Ben Beadle sat on the Master of the Rolls working group and welcomed the move.
He said: “Cutting additional review hearings from the court process will make the system more efficient, which will help tackle the significant backlog of cases that has built as a result of Covid-19, giving landlords more timely access to justice.”
Now that the overall arrangements have ended, the Master of the Rolls has established a new Court Users’ Committee for Possession Proceedings chaired by Lord Justice Males. The NRLA have been asked to sit on the Committee to represent members’ interests.
- Notice period returned to pre-Covid requirements in England on October 1. In Wales, restrictions on enforcement have ended, but default six month notice periods remain in place for most types of possession notice, except antisocial behaviour, until the end of December.
- For more information on Covid and the courts see our resources section.
- You can read the full statement from the Master of the Rolls here.
- The NRLA is campaigning for a package of court reforms including the provision of a specialist housing court and remote hearings.