On 22nd September, the housing minister, Christopher Pincher, stated that bailiffs in England and Wales would be told that they should not enforce any possession orders over the Christmas period, between 11th December and 11th January.
Now the justice secretary has written to bailiffs’ associations to request that they do not enter any properties in areas of England classified as 2 (high) or 3 (very high) under the new Covid-19 alert ‘tier’ system. This has been agreed to by members of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association.
This emergency legislation has been introduced to ensure that vulnerable tenants are not put at risk health-wise and are not forced to find a new home at a time when local authorities are already dealing with increased demand for housing services.
Obviously, with lockdown restrictions changing frequently and sometimes rapidly, we must be prepared for the rules around evictions to shift. But, as it currently stands, while bailiffs may not be able to execute evictions, the courts are open for possession hearings so, if you need to evict your tenant for any valid reason, you can begin the process.
If you are concerned about these recent legislative changes, please be reassured that evictions are still very rare, particularly if your property is professionally let and managed.
The government is also keen to assure landlords that they will still be able to evict at short notice in the most serious circumstances, such as in cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.
And in situations where a tenant is in ‘serious’ arrears, owing more than six months’ rent, they can now be evicted with a minimum of four weeks’ notice.