On 27th March 2020, the Government published the new Practice Direction 51Z – in relation to residential possession proceedings during the Covid-19 pandemic. It follows and should be read in conjunction with the Coronavirus Act 2020 emergency legislation (see our previous update here).
The new PD is effective from 27 March 2020 and confirms that:
- All residential possession proceedings and all proceedings to enforce an existing order for possession are stayed for 90 days from 27 March 2020.
- Claims for injunctive relief are not affected by the stay.
The Practice Direction will cease to be in force on 30 October 2020.
This means that, even if you have an order for possession giving a possession date between 27 March 2020 and 25 June 2020, it will not be enforceable until after 25 June 2020. Our understanding is that this does not prevent an application for a warrant being made – but it will simply be automatically stayed and a date not issued.
Similarly, if you have recently sent a claim for issue, it will have automatically been stayed, and if you were about to, it is very unlikely to be issued (or may be issued but stayed immediately). We understand that a further protocol is being developed to address this and will provide a further update in due course.
Inevitably, the courts will be extremely busy once the 90-day period has expired and so, if you are a landlord looking to take possession, we strongly recommend you ensure that everything is in place to enforce an order and/or issue and serve proceedings as quickly as possible when the stay is lifted.
Please contact Chris Marsden, Head of Real Estate Disputes on 023 8202 5036 or by email email@example.com for further information.