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24 September, 2020 Open access

House of Lords votes in favour of motion that calls for courts to be given temporary discretion to prevent evictions as moratorium is lifted

However, Peers vote against a further motion to annul coronavirus-related amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules

The House of Lords has voted in favour of a ‘regret motion’ that calls for the courts to be given temporary discretion to prevent evictions now that the moratorium has been lifted.

Introducing the first of two motions relating to the Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 (SI.No.751/2020) yesterday - that provide that possession proceedings and enforcement proceedings by way of writ and warrant for possession are to proceed, as provided for by the temporary practice direction Practice Direction 55C - Baroness Grender moved -

‘That a Motion for an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020, laid before the House on 17 July, be annulled because they will permit evictions of individuals who have been served a notice of eviction between 23 March and 28 August before Parliament has had an opportunity to debate the impact of the Rules on (1) homelessness, and (2) the spread of COVID-19 ‘no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home’.

Responding for the government, Conservative Peer Earl Howe outlined the measures introduced by the regulations and the accompanying practice direction - including requirements for landlords to set out any relevant information about a tenant’s circumstances for possession proceedings up to 28 March 2021 and to notify the court and their tenant where they wish to continue pursuing a possession claim that was already in the court system prior to 3 August - before seeking support to oppose the motion -

‘We need to look at all these measures in the round. Taken together, they strongly encourage landlords and tenants to sustain tenancies as far as possible and to discuss their situation before seeking possession and bringing a claim to court...

The Government are clear that all measures to protect renters over this period will be kept under constant review in the light of the evidence on public health. I therefore say to the House that this instrument should be supported as a vital element in the safeguards that we are providing to parties and to manage cases sensibly in the courts. For those reasons, it most certainly should not be annulled; nor, I submit, should it be viewed as a matter for regret.’

Following the debate, a vote on the motion was lost by 266 votes to 166.

As regards the second motion, Labour Peer Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede moved -

'... that the House regrets that the Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 will not continue to protect tenants from eviction, and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to amend the Housing Act 1998 to give courts temporary discretion on evictions, including on evictions arising from rent arrears.'

Seeking support for the motion, Lord Ponsonby said - 

'My Lords, when the noble Earl gave his speech just now, he urged us to look at matters in the round. We are looking at matters in the round. We are not saying there should be an indefinite ban on evictions, but that the Government should honour their original promise that there should be no evictions as a result of coronavirus.'

Peers then voted in favour of the regret motion by 268 to 237 votes

The debates on the motion to annul the regulations and the regret motion that the regulations do not continue to protect tenants from eviction are available from Hansard.