Bailiff evictions are to be halted in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas, the government has confirmed, after initially warning this might happen in guidance issued last month.
Consequently, within these areas landlords and letting agents now face an even longer wait to evict tenants, even when they are often in arrears from before the pandemic started.
Guidance issued to the key bailiff organisations by the Ministry of Justice requests that members should instruct the enforcement agents working under their authorisation not to enter residential properties in the two top tiers for purposes of enforcement, “including taking control of goods and carrying out evictions”, it says.
Some courts also appear to be following suit and at least two county courts (Barnet and Dartford) have now confirmed that they will now not be progressing possession hearings until the areas affected return to Tier 1 status.
Because the government is to implement a Christmas moratorium on bailiff evictions, landlords and letting agents will have to wait until at least the New Year before gaining possession.
But writs of control issued by the High Court can be enforced, and landlords are now using these in some cases, although they are more expensive to access.
“These are very challenging times for everyone in the private rented sector but thousands of landlords face rent arrears of a year or more,” says Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action.
“Just as they thought they were approaching the final hurdle, these new restrictions are going to be a severe blow.”