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13 August, 2020 Open access

New government statistics confirm unprecedented drop in all types of possession actions in England and Wales following steps taken in response to coronavirus pandemic

However, MoJ cautions that data is 'unlikely to be representative' of general trends in possession actions and advises that judicial-led working group is preparing for expiration of stay on evictions

New Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics have confirmed an unprecedented drop in all types of possession actions in England and Wales following steps taken in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: April to June 2020, published today, the MoJ highlights that, following the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 in March 2020 (which put a stay on eviction proceedings for statutory tenants in the private and social rented sector for three months, which was later extended for a further two months) and guidance issued by the Financial Conduct Authority (relating to mortgage holidays and a ban on lender repossessions of homes), possession actions of all types have dropped to unprecedentedly low levels.

In respect of landlord possession actions, the figures show that, in the quarter to June 2020 - 

Similarly, the statistics relating to mortgage possession in the quarter to June 2020 show that - 

However, cautioning that the data is 'unlikely to be representative of general trends in possessions', the MoJ comments - 

'Due to new COVID-19 measures implemented, the [downward] trend accelerated from the end of March 2020, with marked decreases in all types of repossession actions for both mortgages and landlords, and a complete cessation of any repossessions for an initial period of three months. The original legislation was subsequently extended by a further two months to 23 August 2020, after which possession activity will resume in the courts. As outlined in this statistical release, a small proportion of claims, orders and warrants are still being registered in the system. However, these cannot be progressed to bailiff repossessions at this time.

A judicial-led Working Group set up by the Master of the Rolls has been working to prepare for the expiration of the stay. We do not expect all claims to restart (or all new claims to be issued) and are working with representative bodies to understand the expected demand.'

Mortgage and Landlord Possession statistics: April to June 2020 is available from gov.uk

Stop press (17 August 2020) - the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland has today published Mortgages: Actions for possession bulletin April to June 2020 which confirms a 99 per cent decrease in each of mortgage cases received, mortgage cases disposed of, and final orders made in the period compared to the corresponding quarter in 2019.