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The government quietly announces new restrictions on repossessing properties

2-minute read

Mollie Millman

14 August 2020

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With the current eviction ban coming to an end, the government has announced new measures on regaining possession of a property.

The government quietly released its new repossession policy earlier this month. It sees landlords having to carry out additional processes to evict a tenant.

These include submitting any information about how their tenant’s circumstances have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, judges will be able to suspend proceedings if landlords don’t give the information.

A backlog of cases could take longer to progress

The government initially introduced emergency legislation banning tenant evictions at the beginning of the lockdown.

Its aim was to ensure no tenant was forcibly evicted at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

But landlords can start court proceedings against tenants when the five-month ban on evictions finishes on 23 August.

And as the government has announced a new repossession policy, Timothy Douglas, of ARLA Propertymark (the trade body for letting agents), said he was concerned about how housing possession cases will be managed when the eviction ban is lifted.

He said: “It is vital that the government has a co-ordinated strategy that prioritises the most serious cases and informs the sector about the changes and what landlords and agents need to do.

“This is important because when the courts re-open there will be a backlog of cases and they will take longer to progress. As a result, it will be even more important that landlords and agents follow the new procedures in full.”

It added that the government needs to be looking to support those with rent arrears due to the impact of coronavirus.

“We need to ensure that tenancies are maintained and we keep the rent flowing,” he said.

“It is important that we take steps back to normality and both landlords and tenants have access to the justice system, particularly in cases where tenants behave anti-socially or have pre-pandemic rent arrears.”

A call for more financial support

Meanwhile, the National Residential Landlords Association is calling on more financial support for tenants from the government.

The association’s Ben Beadle said: “When the courts do start to hear cases again, it is essential that they deal swiftly with the most serious cases, including those where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or where there are long-standing rent arrears that have nothing to do with the pandemic.

“To offer security to tenants and landlords badly hit during the lockdown we are calling on the government to introduce a tenant loan scheme to help pay off arrears built due to the coronavirus.”

What do you think about the government’s announcement? Let us know in the comments below.

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