Law News

Government provides information about lockdown possession cases

Em Morley - November 9, 2020

The Government has provided clarification about the enforcement of possession cases during the second national lockdown.

In a letter to the High Court Enforcement Officers Association, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has confirmed that during the lockdown there will be no enforcement of Possession Orders except for the most serious cases.

This includes cases related to illegal trespassing and squatting, as well as tenants engaged in anti-social behaviour, fraud or deception. The Government has also confirmed that it will bring forward an exemption from the enforcement ban for cases related to extreme pre-COVID rent arrears.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), comments: “The vast majority of landlords who have had tenants affected due to the pandemic have been working constructively to support them. We continue to encourage and support such action.

“However, in a minority of cases renters have abused the protections afforded by the recent ban on repossessions, causing significant hardship. It is therefore important that the Government recognises that in the most serious cases enforcement action must continue.” 

The Government has now announced that the furlough scheme and equivalent support for the self-employed is to be extended until March next year. According to research for the Resolution Foundation, as of September 9% of private renters in the UK were reliant on the furlough scheme. 

Ben Beadle continues: “The extension of the furlough scheme and support for those who are self-employed will be a life line to many renters reliant on it. However, this still does not address the considerable rent arrears that tenants and landlords continue to face due to the pandemic through no fault of their own.

“Ministers need urgently to develop a bespoke financial package for renters to pay off such arrears. This should include a mix of interest-free government-guaranteed hardship loans and increased benefit support for those who rely on it.”