The government’s ban on tenant eviction proceedings, brought in back in March to support people struggling to pay rent thanks to the pandemic, was due to end at the weekend.

However, the controversial move has now been delayed for another month, meaning courts will now not hear repossession claims by landlords until September 20.

Hayley Wharton takes a look at what this means for landlords and tenants.

From September 20, will this mean repossessions can once again take place?

Unless the ban is extended once more, yes. However, there are slightly different rules depending on when proceedings were issued, and in any case the impact of coronavirus must be taken into account.

If proceedings were issued on or before August 3, 2020, a landlord must serve a reactivation notice confirming whether they wish the case to be listed, relisted, heard or referred to a judge in order to lift the stay of the proceedings.

Currently there is no standard form template to use, but details of what should be included in the reactivation notice is set out in the Practice Direction (PD) 55C.

For proceedings issued after August 3, 2020, a landlord will need to serve a notice with the claim form setting out what knowledge that party has as to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the tenant and their dependants.

What if a claim was issued prior to the moratorium?

If a claim was issued but is currently on hold, and no activation notice is filed by January 29, 2021, the claim is stayed automatically and a subsequent application to lift the stay will need to be made.

For a stayed claim where case management directions were given before August 23, 2020, then the landlord will need to comply with (5.1) of the PD mentioned above. PD 55C applies until March 28, 2021.

I need to proceed with eviction proceedings, what should I do?

The court is likely to receive a high volume of cases in the foreseeable future. Due to the current pandemic and the fact that no possession hearings have taken place since March this year, it is inevitable the courts are dealing with a significant backlog, so it will take slightly longer for the court to deal with possession cases moving forward. It’s likely that the most serious cases will be prioritised.

The key for both landlords and tenants is communication. Tenants should try to negotiate with their landlord if they have fallen into arrears, and try and arrange a payment plan. There is concern that such negotiations have little legal weight, however, and campaigners are calling for more concrete changes.

The charity Shelter warned recently that an estimated 227,000 private renters in England have fallen behind on their rent since March. Landlords are aware of this and most will be willing to listen.

Recently the Commons housing, communities and local government committee urged the government to amend the housing acts in order to let judges take the impact of coronavirus into account when making decisions on cases where tenants are in rent arrears. So there may yet be further changes ahead of September 20.

For landlords, if a payment plan cannot be agreed and if rent arrears exist, they will need to be aware of the potential for significant delays to the process and should seek legal advice accordingly.

For further advice on this or any other residential conveyancing issue, call Hayley Wharton on 0161 761 8062 or email her at