Coronavirus - Changes to possession proceedings

Last updated 21 July 2021 - extension of the temporary changes to court practices


As part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, possession proceedings were suspended from 27 March 2020. All ongoing cases were stayed and new applications to court could not progress beyond the application stage. In many areas of the country new applications would also be returned without being processed at all.

This suspension lasted until 20 September 2020 and effectively prevented landlords from applying for a possession order, or a warrant so an existing order can be enforced.

To help prioritise cases, a new temporary practice direction was issued. This set out new rules for landlords covering what to do if they were making a new claim or they needed to reactivate an older claim that started before or during the first lockdown.

Re-opening of the courts

In preparation for the courts reopening, a new Practice Direction (55C) was prepared that initially came into force from 23 August 2020. This was changed late on 21 August 2020 and the new direction came into force from 20 September 2020, with landlords able to rely on it from 21 September 2020.

This covers both the possession cases that could not continue during this time and new possession claims started on or after 3 August 2020.

Different requirements apply depending on when the possession claim was first issued.

Additional changes to the notice period

In addition to the suspension on possession proceedings the notice periods required for Section 21 and 8 notices were also changed. In most cases they required a minimum of six months' notice until 31 May 2021.

As of 1 June 2021, notice periods have reduced for both Section 21 and Section 8 notices in England. These notices now typically require a minimum of four months notice except in some limited circumstances when using a Section 8 notice. 

Further information on the changes to notice periods are available on our Section 21 and Section 8 pages.

Members and guests only!

the remainder of this page explains how cases will be prioritised, what information needs to be included in a reactivation notice and gives some guidance on how to comply with the requirements if you do wish to seek possession

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