Details have now emerged as to how possession cases will be reactivated after their suspension period ends on 23rd August. After the suspension period ends, a new practice direction, CPR 55C, will come into force and the main points of that practice direction are set out below.
For all stayed claims (being claims brought on or before 22nd August 2020) where a possession order has not yet been obtained, a re-activation notice will need to be served at court and on the tenant. If you already have a possession order, you can simply proceed to apply for a warrant after 23rd August.
If you do not serve a reactivation notice by 29th January 2021 then the case will be automatically stayed, however, this is not treated as a sanction and you can apply to have the stay lifted.
It is not yet known what the format of a reactivation notice will be or if a precedent will be produced however it must:
(a) confirm that the party filing and serving it wishes the case to be listed, relisted, heard or referred; and
(b) except in proceedings relating to an appeal, set out what knowledge that party has as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and their dependents.
If the claim is based on rent arrears, an updated rent account must also be filed along with the reactivation notice.
For all new claims, the claimant must file with the claim form a notice setting out relevant information about the position of the tenant. This includes information that is known about the tenant and any dependents with regards to vulnerability, disability, and social security as well as detail about if any occupants are shielding.
New provisions will also mean that the 8-week listing rule is temporarily suspended until 28th March 2021 in order to avoid over crowded Court waiting rooms.
It would appear that whilst the stay is lifted as of 24th August and possession claims begin to return to normal, landlords can expect significant delay in their matter being dealt with and they will need to be cautious that they have complied with the new requirements in order to avoid any further delay or an unnecessary stay being placed on the case.
As a reminder, the requirement to give 3 months’ notice period continues until 30th September as a requirement of the Coronavirus Act 2020.
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