Practice directions are a set of ‘rules’ and ‘practices’ made by the Court which gives guidance on the procedures to be followed when involved with a dispute. Following the recent Covid-19 pandemic, various new Practice Directions have been introduced for the protection of court staff and the general public. Given that the economic climate is suffering new Practice Directions have also been introduced to avoid an increase in homelessness. The new Practice Directions restricts the formal actions Landlords can take in an attempt to evict Tenants. Various Practice Directions have been introduced, including:-
Practice Direction 51Y – Video or Audio Hearings during Coronavirus Pandemic
• This practice direction, made under rule 51.2 of the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”), makes provision in relation to audio or video hearings.
• Where the court directs that proceedings are to be conducted wholly as video or audio proceedings and it is not practicable for the hearing to be broadcast in a court building, the court may direct that the hearing must take place in private where it is necessary to do so to secure the proper administration of justice. The court may direct the hearing to be video recorded, otherwise the hearing must be audio recorded.
• Where a media representative is able to access proceedings remotely while they are taking place, they will be public proceedings.
• This practice direction continues to be in force until it is no longer applicable and ceases to be legally binding. (Either 25th March 2022 or if extended longer).
Practice Direction 51Z – Stay of possession proceedings and enforcement action, Coronavirus
On 27 March 2020, a new Practice Direction 51Z introduced a 90 day stay on all proceedings brought under CPR Part 55 (possession claims) and all proceedings to enforce an order for possession
This was followed by CPR 55.29 on 25 June 2020 which extended the stay on possession proceedings and any enforcement action until 23 August 2020. In effect, this meant that since March any claims made to the court by a landlord in relation to possession would automatically be put on hold until 23rd August 2020. This means that a landlord could not seek possession of their property even if they have served the necessary notice (Section 21 Notice) on the tenant. Tenants who were not paying their rent or not complying with the terms of their tenancy were also entitled to remain in the property. Whilst landlords could still issue proceedings, they were automatically put on hold until 23rd August 2020.
Further restrictions have meant that landlords must now give 3 months’ notice to their tenants (if notice is served on or after 26 March 2020). The restriction relating to the extended notice periods is currently in place until 30 September 2020 but there is a possibility that it could be extended.
Practice Direction 55C
Practice Direction 55C comes into force on 23rd August 2020 for an interim period ending on 28th March 2021. The direction sets out the steps required to reactivate currently ‘stayed’ claims, as well as any procedural requirements which will apply to existing claims and new possession claims.
What this now means for Landlords: –
Any stayed claims brought before 3 August 2020, where a final possession order has not been made, a reactivation notice is required in order to progress the claim. A reactivation notice is effectively a written notice confirming that they wish the case to be listed, relisted, heard or referred. This will result in a significant number of delays and backlog in your Court case being heard.
For claims brought between 3rd August 2020 and 22nd August 2020 or claims in which a final possession has been made, a reactivation notice is not required.
If you are a Landlord or Tenant and you have been affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic and the recent legislation giving protection to Tenants, please do not hesitate to contact Kathryn Dale for further clarification or advice on 01582 466152 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org