The government has delivered a fresh blow to agents and landlords after all but closing off one of the last evictions paths left to those seeking to enforce a possession order.
High Court bailiffs, which are separate to their more common county court counterparts, have now been told to down tools during the lockdown with only the most extreme cases being allowed to proceed.
This includes extreme arrears of more than 12 months’ rent but also illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour, fraud, eviction of a perpetrator of domestic abuse in social housing and where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant.
“Together with [the ‘Xmas truce’] pause on enforcement of evictions starting in December that has been agreed with bailiffs, this means that evictions in England will not be enforced until the 11 January at the earliest, except in the most serious circumstances,” a government statement says.
Evictions sanctioned by the High Court are less common, largely because the cases can only be passed to it after a county court judge gives the go-ahead, and also because it is a more expensive route to use.
Timothy Douglas, Policy and Campaigns Manager at ARLA Propertymark, says: “The UK Government has yet again extended the ban on evictions in England and this will come as a further blow to our members.
“It will cause further distress for landlords who are currently dealing with ongoing rental arrears and add further pressure on the courts to manage the backlog of cases.
“There needs to be a coordinated approach that better supports the needs of the industry and measures are put in place to further support tenants who have built up Covid-related arrears through no fault of their own.”