The government’s temporary ban on evictions is due to end on 23 August. In response to a written question on 1 July, HCLG Minister Lord Greenhlagh indicated that from 24 August 2020, the courts will begin to process possession cases again, with actions in place to prioritise and reduce the backlog of cases in order to make the resumption process manageable.
We know that finding a way to resume possession proceedings in a fair and equitable manner is a major concern for our members right now, and it is key priority for the NHF too. As a member of the government’s working group on possession proceedings, alongside organisations representing private and local authority landlords, we have been representing our members' views on how courts should treat possession proceedings, once the eviction ban ends.
In particular, this group is considering how the prioritisation process will operate when possession proceedings resume. We anticipate that the courts may start by asking landlords whether they wish to continue with cases already listed, with the expectation that some will be withdrawn. We have stressed the need to prioritise serious antisocial behaviour and domestic violence cases, as well as highlighting the wider pressures that the eviction ban has placed on social landlords.
The situation is evolving rapidly and we will keep our members updated with new details as they emerge. However, we are confident that MHCLG, the Ministry of Justice and the courts are all fully aware of the need to get the system working again, and are keen to engage with the housing sector to ensure proceedings resume smoothly.
In the meantime, if you have any residents worried about their income or the prospect of eviction, our sector statement is resource that many housing associations have found helpful to share. We are looking to review this statement once we have clarity on what restarting the evictions process will look like.