New Restrictions on Eviction and Debt Recovery Action

New Restrictions on Eviction and Debt Recovery Action

To protect against Coronavirus transmission, the Government has passed The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 (‘the Regulations’) which introduce a new temporary eviction ban which applies to England only. 

No eviction notices can be served on residential tenants nor can bailiffs execute warrants of possession of land from the 17 November 2020 until 11 January 2021 unless an exemption applies.  The exemptions are:

  1. To evict occupants where ‘substantial’ rent arrears have accrued. The arrears must equate to 9 months’ rent arrears and must have accrued before the 23 March 2020,
  2. To evict trespassers,
  3. To evict occupants on the grounds of anti-social behaviour,
  4. To evict occupants on the grounds of nuisance or domestic abuse or false statements, and
  5. Where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant.

Court proceedings to obtain a possession order are still ongoing but unless an exemption applies, no evictions are expected to be enforced until after 11 January 2021 at the earliest.

This does not affect any eviction notices served or possession claims issued prior to this ban, but it does mean that any possession orders made cannot be enforced by a bailiff until after 11 January 2021 unless any of the above exemptions apply.

The regulations refer to ‘notices of eviction’ which is intended to refer to notices from a bailiff of a date and time that the tenant will be evicted by a bailiff or high court enforcement agent. This does not mean that landlords can serve eviction notices, such as a section 8 or 21 notice for example. This is the case, despite the regulations not defining the term ‘notices of eviction’ it is clear Parliaments intention was to stop notices of eviction by bailiff being served. 

Alex Chalk MP stated on 17 November 2020:

“On 6 November, the Lord Chancellor wrote to the enforcement agent trade associations asking their members not to enter homes to take control of goods during the period of time that the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.4) Regulations 2020 (the health protection regulations) are in force.

On 16 November the Government laid the Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020. From 17 November, the regulations prevent enforcement agents taking control of goods inside homes while the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.4) Regulations 2020 are in force. They also prevent enforcement agents from enforcing evictions (other than in limited circumstances) until 11 January.”

Seizing Goods 

The Regulations also introduced a temporary ban on bailiffs attending residential properties to execute a warrant of control (in order to seize the tenant’s goods in order to be sold to recover arrears) from the 17 November 2020 until the national restrictions are due to be lifted. 

Application

Interestingly, the new regulations do not define ‘residential tenancies’ or ‘notice of eviction’. It would seems these regulations have been introduced and passed by Parliament extremely quickly. 

The regulations are intended to protect all residential occupants from eviction, which includes: 

1. License agreements.
2. Excluded license agreements.
3. Assured tenancy agreements. 
4. Assured shorthold tenancy agreements. 
5. Regulated tenancies (protected tenancies).
6. Residential lease agreements.

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