New PD 51Z for Stay of Possession Proceedings and Extension of Time Limits

Fri, 27 Mar 2020

The world has become a very unusual place in the last few weeks. The government has rushed to help us navigate it with a series of guidance, upon guidance, upon guidance, which we have all tried to keep abreast of the best we can.

So fast moving have matters been that when I wrote my first article on the impact of coronavirus on residential possession proceedings on 24th March 2020, having already held off to be more sure as to the legislation we were set to gain, before it could be posted on 25th March 2020 the Coronavirus Bill had been enacted. A swift amendment and the following article was posted.

In that article, I picked up on how the legislation fell short of what was anticipated following the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's press release of 18th March 2020 which had suggested a complete ban on evictions” and“no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time”.

Of course latter that day, MHCLG issued guidance titled “Government support available for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak” summarising what it terms “a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)” restating that “with these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home”. It summarised the effect of section 81, and schedule 29, of the 2020 Act but also that:

“From tomorrow (27 March 2020) following a decision by the Master of the Rolls with the Lord Chancellors agreement the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in the or any about to go in the system can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. This suspension of housing possessions action will initially last for 90 days, but this can be extended if needed. This measure will protect all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This will apply to both England and Wales”.

You can read more in my further article here.

That was this morning. Since then, the senior judiciary have announced a new Practice Direction 51Z described as complementing the provisions of the 2020 Act to "prevent imminent evictions and delay possession proceedings". The PD is effective immediately - so from the 27th March 2020 - and is described in the announcement as having the following effect:

  • All proceedings for housing possession brought under CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession are stayed for a period of 90 days from today, 27th March 2020.
  • Claims for injunctive relief are not subject to the stay set out in paragraph 2 of the PD.
  • The PD ceases to have effect on 30th October 2020.

A copy of the PD can be accessed here.

If you have any questions or queries about how this impacts your proceedings - either ongoing or intended - please get in touch with the Business and Property Team at No5 Barristers' Chambers on [email protected] and/or email me at [email protected]

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