05 May, 2020
The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has yesterday revealed plans to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee to put a pre-action protocol in place when the eviction ban is lifted on 25 June 2020.
Mr Jenrick confirmed that a decision would be made next month on whether the ban would need to be extended but in the meantime landlords are urged to act in good faith and investigate other solutions to overcome rent arrears before issuing possession.
He said that the protocol will "enable tenants to have an added degree of protection, because instead of embarking upon the eviction proceedings immediately, there will be a duty upon their landlords to reach out to them, discuss their situation, and try to find an affordable repayment plan. This will enable tenants to remain in their homes, and to recover the rent they haven't been able to pay because of their circumstances".
It's fair to say that many tenant's will be struggling to pay their rent owing to changes in their employment and financial circumstances and it will be necessary for them to be afforded the opportunity, once the pandemic has ended, to bring their rent accounts up to date. But in the current climate, private landlords, who have mortgages to pay and may also have suffered a blow to their income, may not feel they can afford to give their tenant's this additional time.
This new layer of 'protection' for tenants is also going to lead to further frustration for social landlords, who are already having to wait three months before they can issue a possession claim and are doing everything they can to work with tenants to maximise their income and assist them to pay their rent and arrears in accordance with the pre action protocol for social landlords that is already in place.
It's not yet clear whether this new 'pre action protocol' will apply to all possession proceedings such as mandatory proceedings under section 21 or relying on Ground 8 but watch this space….
For more information contact Sarah Rogers in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01772 220161. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.