On Friday 5 June 2020, the Housing Secretary (Robert Jenrick) announced that there would be an extension to the stay on evictions of renters in England and Wales until 23 August 2020. The substance of this announcement has practically manifested itself with the 121st Update to the Civil Procedure Rules, following the approval in Parliament of the Statutory Instrument, Civil Procedure (Amendment No.2) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 enacted on 9 June 2020.
The 121st Update, which came into force on 10 June 2020, amends Practice Direction 51Z (paragraph 3), which itself originally came into force on 25 March 2020, and initially applied a 90-day stay to possession action until 25 June 2020. The new Update immediately takes over and extends the expiration date of the stay from 25 June 2020 until 23 August 2020, due to the operation of paragraph 2 of the Civil Procedure (Amendment No.2) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020. Those Rules insert a new, temporary CPR Rule 55.29, which reads:
“Stay of possession proceedings, coronavirus
55.29—(1) Subject to paragraph (2), all possession proceedings brought under this Part and all enforcement proceedings by way of writ or warrant of possession that are—
(a) stayed immediately prior to this rule coming into force; or
(b) brought after this rule comes into force and on or before 22nd August 2020,
are stayed until 23rd August 2020.
(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply to—
(a) a claim against trespassers to which rule 55.6 applies;
(b) proceedings under Section III of this Part;
(c) an application for case management directions that are agreed by all the parties; or
(d) a claim for injunctive relief.
(3) Paragraph (1) does not prevent the bringing of a claim notwithstanding that it may be stayed.
(4) For the purposes of the application of any rule to any proceedings that are stayed by paragraph (1)—
(a) time does not run; and
(b) no notice is required to be given by the court. ”.
The practical effect for landlords is that whilst they may issue a claim for possession, it will automatically be stayed until 23 August 2020 without any requirement for the court to give notice of this. The earliest date on which possession hearings will be listed will be 23 August 2020, with evictions not being permitted before that date. Further, time does not run during the stay, such that deadlines, for instance, for filing a Defence to a claim, are inapplicable until after the stay is lifted.
The effect of the Updates for mortgage lenders is largely academic, because Guidance issued by the Financial Conduct Authority precludes them from taking possession action until the end of October 2020.
The 121st Update itself can be found here.