We have previously reported on the various protections and temporary emergency measures put in place by the Government over the course of this year to prevent tenants from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to safeguard public health. As England prepares to come out of ‘Lockdown 2.0’ next week, the Government has again passed legislation extending protections against tenants being evicted from residential properties. This relates to England only and the detail of the Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 can be viewed here.
In short, whilst ‘writs of possession’ (the order allowing the enforcement agent to carry out the eviction) may be issued, the eviction cannot occur before the Regulations expire (currently, 11 January 2021), unless one of the exceptions apply:-
- Where the claim is against unknown trespassers;
- Where the order for possession was made, wholly or partly, on the basis of nuisance or false statements, domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour, the death of the tenant (provided that the property is unoccupied) or “substantial rent arrears”.
It should be noted that the “substantial rent arrears” must be equivalent to nine months’ rent that accrued before 23 March 2020. Any rent arrears after this date, also known as “Covid-related” rent arrears, are expressly disregarded by the legislation.
The Regulations also prevent an enforcement agent from issuing a notice of eviction (i.e. the formal notice to the occupants of when the agent will visit to evict them), unless of course one of the exceptions apply.