The government announced in March that all possession proceedings would be halted to protect renters and those with mortgages until at least June 25. Since then, housing secretary Robert Jenrick has said that the government’s ban on evictions will be extended for another two months which will take us into late August. Whilst this is welcome news for tenants facing eviction, it is of course to the detriment of landlords who have in some cases sought to evict non-paying tenants. The courts have been investigating ways in which they could safely resume possession hearings this month, but a number of solicitors have been concerned about courts where no duty solicitor exists to represent vulnerable tenants litigating alone. Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC MP, said:”Protecting vulnerable people has been our priority throughout this pandemic. Extending this ban will give people invaluable security in these turbulent times and work continues at pace to ensure vulnerable renters remain protected long after the ban ends.”
Where we are now and the future
Landlord or tenant, it is a fact that we are in unprecedented times which have dramatically affected the justice system’s capability of dealing with matters in a timely manner. Landlords have in the past urged the government to set up a specialist housing court after figures were published to suggest that courts were unable to cope with the sheer volume of possessions cases. Should such a specialist court come to exist in the future, it would have to be easy to navigate for the lay person as the rising cost of civil justice has seen an influx in unrepresented parties. The pressures faced by the justice system are of course exacerbated by COVID-19 right now and it seems that we will not return to any form of normality any time soon. The question is, what will happen when the time comes for all these hearings to go ahead? Chances are, we will see further adjournments because the courts will be swamped with unresolved matters.
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