A raft of measures from government and courts intended to help private tenants during the Coronavirus lockdown may be storing up a wave of litigation, warn experts.
Property law firm Hägen Wolf says temporary restrictions on the termination of both residential tenancies will expire at the end of next month and could lead to a surge of litigation based on rent arrears.
Measures that have already been introduced extending the notice period for notices to quit and notices under both sections 21 and 8 of the Housing Act 1988 to three months, which apply to all notices served before September 30 this year.
Any possession proceedings issued relating to rental properties - including requests for enforcement of an existing possession order - have been automatically ‘stayed’ until June 25 at the earliest, subject to minor exceptions related to trespassers and interim possession orders.
However, of course none of these measures mean tenants should not ultimately pay their rent - which may trigger disputes later this year.
“The government has made it clear that tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual. The pause on litigation does nothing to resolve issues, and we already see a spike in enquiries about possible legal action following lockdown" says a statement from the firm.
“For residential tenancies, the changes only slow down evictions and do not prevent them. We suspect that many residential landlords are waiting to see what further changes the government makes before issuing notices and possession claims on tenants who have fallen on hard times.”