Top lawyer warns that court backlog is hampering landlords despite ban on evictions being lifted

September 27, 2020

Widespread evictions are unlikely to follow the lifting of Covid-related landlord restrictions, partly due a backlog of cases, a top property lawyer is claiming.

Jacqui Walton, pictured, a senior paralegal in the residential property team at regional law firm Royds Withy King, which has an office in Swindon, said landlords were bound by strict rules designed to slow down the process, meaning tenants would not be kicked out onto the streets any time soon. 

As a result, the current regime was failing landlords, who were not being offered protection by the government, she said.

“The government introduced its moratorium on tenant evictions in March and extended it further in June. The moratorium expired on September 20, although we should not rule out a further reintroduction if lockdown measures need to be reintroduced,” said Jacqui.

“Landlords who started eviction proceedings before the August 3 must now serve what is called a ‘reactivation notice’. If they do not, any claim will not be relisted by the courts or heard by a judge.

“And even when a reactivation notice is served, in fault-based evictions the courts will allow more time between the claim and hearing, typically eight weeks, and given the backlog of cases that is likely to be significantly longer.”  

She said eviction claims that started on or after the August 3 now required landlords to enter into what is called a ‘pre-action protocol’, with landlords needing to attempt to agree a resolution with their tenants before issuing a possession claim.

Landlords will also need to provide the courts with information on what impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on a tenant, which may have an impact on how much time a tenant is given by the court to vacate a property.

“The guidance on what this means for landlords, what information is needed and what happens if it is not provided is unclear and could leave eviction claims stuck in the courts for many months to come, leaving landlords in limbo,” added Jacqui.

“Whilst this may give respite to tenants, there does not appear to be any recognition from government that landlords too may be struggling with the loss of income during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Private landlords play a major role in the provision of homes in the UK and whilst it is right that tenants are protected, it must also be remembered that landlords too need protections. The current regime is failing landlords.”

Royds Withy King has its headquarters in Bath with offices in Swindon, Oxford, Bristol and London and employs more than with 520 people.

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