“If landlords want to deal with tenants who have recently fallen into arrears, there are more effective ways than going through the courts. Rental agents can help them pursue these options.
As the eviction ban ends this month, landlords and rental agents are being warned to prepare for changes to the repossession process – including a new pre-action protocol, a period of temporarily extended notice and potentially longer waiting times for court hearings.
Evictions have been banned since mid-March to protect tenants who have been financially affected by Covid-19.
The ban was originally scheduled to last three months, but was extended for two more in June. From August 24, the courts will start hearing rental property repossession cases again. The government is also creating temporary “Nightingale Courts” to deal with the backlog of cases.
Rental payment automation platform PayProp says the impact of Covid-19 and the resulting ban on evictions means the process of repossessing a property through the courts will be something little different.
For example, if a landlord’s claim to possession is for rent arrears or non-payment of rent, they will need to provide information about the tenant’s financial situation and the effects of the pandemic on them.
If the information is not provided or is found to be inadequate by the courts, they will have the option of adjourning the case. Landlords issuing an eviction notice will also be required to give tenants three months notice until September 30.
Some politicians and housing groups have speculated that lifting the ban on evictions would spike Covid-19-related repossessions.
However, research from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) suggests that this may not be the case. A survey of more than 2,000 tenants found that over 95% either pay rent in full or have agreed with their landlord to reduce or postpone payments.
The research also found that less than a third of delinquent tenants, or about 2% of the entire sample, received an eviction notice.
PayProp says that unless homeowners are affected by a large long-term build-up of arrears, or cases of domestic violence and anti-social behavior, they should only consider legal action as a last resort.
Neil Cobbold, Director of Sales at PayProp, commented: “After a five-month hiatus, evicting a tenant by the courts may take longer than usual once the ban is lifted.