Guidance from Lord Chief Justice and soon-to-be enacted Coronavirus legislation both mean landlords have a very small window to complete ongoing evictions.

The Section 8 evictions court system is continuing but is on the brink of being shut down, Landlord Action has warned.

As we reported last week, Blackpool County Court was the first to follow the Lord Chief Justice’s guidance on court hearings and adjourn all new eviction proceedings.

It has now been followed by Wigan (pictured), Dartford, Medway and Barnet with others likely to follow today.

Most possession hearings are dealt with as a block by individual courts on set days and only last ten minutes each.

It is usually not possible to hold these remotely, as cases cannot be individually scheduled and legal teams would have to be made available at courts for tenants to appear in person, should they wish to do so.

“We are aware that courts are now making individual decisions to vacate block hearings and adjourn ALL possession hearings,” says Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action.

“If ever there was a time to try and engage with your tenant it’s now. Many tenants are being laid off, so ask for some documentary proof of this.

Something not nothing

“If you can arrange to reduce the rent, then my recommendation is to get something rather than nothing and sort out a payment plan and work with your tenant, maybe hopefully sustain a better relationship which may lead to them staying put long term.

“We have been serving notices at Landlord Action, but any day now the courts will stop issuing the claims when the planned three-month freeze become law.

The government’s Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 are now before parliament, which include its evictions extension proposals.

“During this time, having an empty property is not ideal, as we do not know how long this crisis will last and if a tenant has unfortunately caught the virus, they should not face eviction,” says Shamplina.

“If a landlord is affected, they need to speak to their mortgage company as soon as possible to see if they can arrange a mortgage holiday to take the pressure off. We will come out of this, it is temporary.”

Read a guide to the evictions process.

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