Amendments to Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords


17 April, 2015

On 06 April 2015, amendments to the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords came into force. Whilst previously the pre-action protocol related to claims for possession and rent arrears, an important amendment to note is that the pre-action protocol now also applies to mandatory grounds for possession.

Part 2 of the pre-action protocol relates to possession claims based upon rent arrears and reflects the guidance on good practice given to social landlords and RPs in the collection of rent arrears. Part 2 will be familiar to social landlords but the amended pre-action protocol should be reviewed in any event to ensure a provider's procedure incorporates the pre-action protocol to avoid any judicial criticism.

Part 3 of the Pre-Action Protocol

Part 3 of the pre-action protocol is a new addition and social landlords will have to ensure that they incorporate the pre-action protocol into their procedures when dealing with claims for possession where there is a restriction on the court's discretion on making an order for possession and/or to which s.89 Housing Act 1980 applies. For example, in cases of non-secure tenancies, unlawful occupiers, succession claims and the severing of joint tenancies.

The aim of the introduction of Part 3 is to ensure that in cases where Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is raised as a defence, the necessary information is before the Court at the first hearing so that issues of proportionality may be dealt with summarily or that appropriate directions for trial may be given.

Action to Take Prior to Issuing Possession Proceedings

In order to comply with the part 3 of the protocol, in cases where the court must grant possession if the landlord proves its case, then before issuing the possession claim social landlords should:

  1. Write to occupants explaining why they currently intend to seek possession and requiring the occupants within a specified time to notify the landlord in writing of any personal circumstances or other matters which they wish to take into account. In many cases such a letter could accompany any notice to quit and so would not necessarily delay the issue of proceedings; and
  2. Should consider any representations received, and if they decide to proceed with a claim for possession give brief written reasons for doing so.

Details to Include Within Your Possession Claim

In cases where the court must grant possession if the landlord proves its case, a social landlord should include in its particulars of claim, or in any witness statement, a schedule giving a summary:-

  1. whether it has (by statutory review procedure or otherwise) invited the defendant to make representations of any personal circumstances or other matters which they wish to be taken into account before the social landlord issues proceedings;
  2. if representations were made, that they were considered;
  3. of brief reasons for bringing proceedings; and
  4. copies of any relevant documents which the social landlord wishes the Court to consider in relation to the proportionality of the landlord's decision to bring proceedings

The amendments came into force on 06 April 2015. From this date, social landlords will be expected to demonstrate that they have complied with this pre-action protocol where it is reasonable to do so.

For further information, please contact Bethany Paliga by email or on 01772 220241.


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