Possession of Residential Property – Important Coronavirus Update

The Government has announced that its “Emergency Coronavirus Bill” will prevent the eviction of tenants from social and privately rented accommodation during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Emergency legislation is expected to be enacted in the coming days that will suspend evictions and prevent residential landlords from issuing any new Court proceedings for the possession of property. The suspension is expected to last at least three months but may be extended to suit the circumstances.

How the legislation will affect landlords ability to serve section 8 or section 21 notices on tenants or whether it will affect the status of those notices that have already been served, is yet to be seen. However, it is clear that such notices will not be capable of enforcement through Court proceedings until at least the last week of June.

While rent will continue to accrue and become due pursuant to the terms of the lease (or pursuant to a statutory periodic tenancy if the lease term ends but the tenant does not vacate the property) while the tenants remain in occupation, tenants cannot be evicted for failing to pay such rent, or for any other reason, during the period the legislation remains in force. Once the legislation is lifted, landlords and tenants will be expected to co-operate to establish an affordable repayment plan in relation to any overdue rent.

In order to alleviate the impact this is likely to have on landlords, the legislation is also expected to provide for a three-month “mortgage payment holiday” to be extended to buy-to-let mortgages.

Further detail regarding this rapidly changing area of law will be provided as it becomes available. For a broader insight into the usual process for obtaining possession of property, please see our website.

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