Evicting tenants is never easy. It can take up to eight months from serving a Section 21 notice to finally getting the keys back. Evictions are on hold until 24 August, but even when the courts reopen, there is likely to be a backlog of cases on the docket. To make matters worse, landlords face new restrictions when the restrictions come to an end.
Changes to Eviction Process
The government has introduced some new rules. The process for evicting a tenant via the courts has changed slightly and landlords have some additional hoops to jump through.
With Covid-19 still a big problem, landlords trying to evict a tenant through the courts will have to submit information. This information must include how the tenant has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This will help the courts determine how the tenant and their dependents have been affected by the pandemic. Where possible, landlords will have to provide evidence of arrears prior to the court hearing instead of on the day.
If they fail to do so, their case will be thrown out.
Courts Under Pressure
The new measures come into effect for new and existing cases filed when the courts reopen. Experts are concerned this will put even more pressure on a system already creaking under the strain.
It’s very important that landlords do everything by the book when they evict a tenant. Landlords must make sure they serve eviction notices and fill in the paperwork correctly. If there are mistakes at any point, even minor ones, you could end up back at square one and out of pocket.
There is help out there for landlords. Organisations such as Landlord Action can help with evictions.
There are growing fears that the backlog of cases will mean evictions take even longer to process. Fewer court hearings are taking place to accommodate social distancing which will add to the delays.
“It is vital that the Government has a co-ordinated strategy that prioritises the most serious cases and informs the sector about the changes and what landlords and agents need to do,” says Timothy Douglas from ARLA Propertymark.
“It is important that we take steps back to normality and both landlords and tenants have access to the justice system, particularly in cases where tenants behave anti-socially or have pre-pandemic rent arrears.”
The NRLA concurs. Ben Beadle, the CEO of the NRLA says the courts must prioritise the most serious cases where tenants are committing antisocial behaviour or landlords are dealing with long-standing rent arrears that pre-date the coronavirus pandemic.
With this in mind, the NRLA has asked the government to introduce a loan system. Tenants can now apply for financial assistance to help pay off rent arrears. Such a system is being implemented in Wales, but the NRLA would like it to be rolled out nationwide.
The Welsh Tenancy Saver Loans scheme starts in September. Tenants can borrow money, but the repayments must be deemed affordable. The money must be used to repay rent arrears accrued since the start of the pandemic.
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