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21 August, 2020 Open access

Stay on possession proceedings in England and Wales extended to 20 September 2020

Government also says that landlords will be required to provide most tenants with 6 months' notice until at least the end of March 2021, and that when the courts resume eviction hearings they will carefully prioritise the most 'egregious' cases

The stay on possession proceedings in England and Wales has been extended to 20 September 2020.

With the House of Commons not returning from its summer recess until 1 September 2020, and the current stay - introduced in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic - due to expire on 23 August 2020, the Master of the Rolls, the Rt Hon Sir Terence Etherton, said today in a 'Dear Colleagues' letter -

'Yesterday the Lord Chancellor wrote to me, in my capacity as the Head of Civil Justice and Chair of the Civil Procedure Committee (CPRC). He thinks it expedient for the Civil Procedure Rules to include provision that would extend the stay imposed by rule 55.29 for a period of four weeks, to 20 September. Pursuant to 3A of the CPA 1997 he directed the CPRC to make rules to achieve that purpose.

The CPRC met earlier today. It considered the extremely unusual nature and timing of the letter of direction from the Lord Chancellor but by majority considered that it was bound to follow the direction. Consequently, the CPRC also considered the draft rules necessary to meet this objective. I understand that these rules will shortly be put forward to Parliament.

This 4-week extension to the stay relating to housing possession cases, will allow for further work to be done to prepare for the stay to be lifted which in many respects can be welcomed ...'

In addition, the government has announced today that it - 

'... intends to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March.'

The government adds that when the courts resume eviction hearings -

'... they will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, ensuring landlords are able to progress the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as where landlords have not received rent for over a year and would otherwise face unmanageable debts.'

The amendment of rule 55.29 of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to extend the stay until 20 September 2020 is introduced by the Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 5) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 (SI.No.889/2020).

See also the amendments to Practice Direction 55C that come into force on 22 August 2020. The newly consolidated version of Practice Direction 55C now provides for temporary modification of Part 55 during the period beginning with 20 September 2020 (the end of the stay imposed by rule 55.29) and ending on 28 March 2021.

For more information, see Jenrick extends ban on evictions and notice periods.

NB - on 13 August 2020, the Scottish Government confirmed its intention to extend its emergency legislation, that in effect halted eviction action, to March 2021 and, on 19 August 2020, the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland announced that legislation protecting renters in Northern Ireland from eviction is to be extended to 31 March 2021. In Wales, the Welsh Government has temporarily increased the notice period that landlords must give assured and assured shorthold tenants to end a tenancy from three months to six months.