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New lockdown means evictions effectively off-limits for months

It is thought likely that the new four week lockdown in England coming into effect on Thursday will mean evictions will be extremely difficult to enforce for some months.

Although the eviction ban actually ended several weeks ago, it was agreed last week that tenants living in areas under the old Tier 2 and Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions in England and Wales were temporarily protected from eviction. 

The government asked bailiffs not to enforce court possession orders in areas with the highest Coronavirus restrictions. So although evictions could still proceed through the courts, bailiffs will not enforce court orders in Tier 2 and 3 areas. 


Bailiff trade bodies agreed to the request made in a letter from Justice Secretary Robert Buckland who wrote: “We would request that your members should instruct the enforcement agents working under their authorisation not to enter properties that are classified as local alert level 2 (high) or 3 (very high).”

With the new lockdown in England lasting from November 5 to December 2 - at least - it is thought that the bailiffs’ decisions not to enforce evictions in high-restriction areas will be extended across England.

The government has already said that enforcement action will also be paused over Christmas - specifically between December 11 and January11 - except in ‘the most serious circumstances’, such as cases involving antisocial behaviour or domestic abuse. 

It is thought likely that courts in England will still sit during the imminent lockdown and they are prioritising eviction cases involving anti-social behaviour, crime and extreme rental arrears. 

However, practical enforcement for any eviction agreed appears likely to be on hold until mid-January.

On top of all that, agents acting for landlords in England and Wales must now give six months’ notice to tenants before starting eviction proceedings, apart from in the most extreme circumstances. 

These include where tenants are proven to have demonstrated anti-social behaviour, committed fraud or if they are more than six months in arrears with their rent payments. The six-month minimum notice period was introduced by the government in September and will remain in place until at least March 31 next year. 

Meanwhile analysis by consumer group Which? has shown that in Scotland, landlords must give tenants six months’ notice in most circumstances. If the landlord or their family wants to move in or the landlord has had their registration revoked, the notice period is three months. 

If the tenant has a criminal conviction, has engaged in antisocial behaviour or has moved out, only 28 days’ notice is required. 

And in Northern Ireland, private landlords must give 12 weeks’ notice to evict tenants, and have been encouraged to not issue eviction notices unless it is ‘absolutely unavoidable’.

  • James B

    The local authority teams at the councils must be loving this not having to house all the idiots and defaulters landlords routinely evict every week. Government have certainly used this virus to hang landlords out to dry

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    My tenants’ S21 notice expires on 22nd December 2020. The house is for sale and has had several viewings but because of the tenant in situ, no offers. I know the council have said to wait until bailiffs turn up, another expense I could do without. I am facing the prospect of a squatting tenant and a house I cannot sell.

    I did vote for Bojo but I got Bozo.

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    As @Paul Barrett has been saying for months - at least a year to get defaulting tenants out.

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    • 02 November 2020 10:21 AM

    I think I was being optimistic!

    I suggest now two years from now.
    It will definitely be 2 years for those due to evict in March this year.

    I'm just surprised there haven't been mass repossessions by lenders.

    I guess it must mean that LL have needed to create their own magic money tree to subsidise feckless rent defaulting tenants.

    To me the big question is whether the magic money tree will continue to bear fruit?

    If it runs out then what!?

    Matthew Fine

    If I am not mistaken repossessions are currently banned and will probably be extended by another 6 months.

  • Matthew Payne

    I read one forecast yesterday that just the current Court backlog won't be cleared until 2023, and thats without any new claims; it is getting bigger not smaller. It will be very interesting to see what develops over next year with lenders. As more lanlords stop making mortgage payments, there will come a tipping point. Before a massive wave of repos will no doubt come some heavy pressure from banks, probably in the Spring after the 2nd wave/winter has passed urging government to get on top of this. HMG will need to address this to avoid the economic shock of tens of thousands of repossessions and the homelessness that will follow with no spare social housing to fall back on. Banks aren't going to tolerate another 2 years of this, even if landlords have no choice.


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