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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Friday 23 July 2021

Another ground of challenge for tenants: another trap for landlords

County court bailiffs and High Court enforcement agents (who are the uglier and more enthusiastic form of bailiff) in England and Wales must now generally give you advance written notice that they are coming to evict you from your home when you have stayed put after the court has made a possession order against you. How long in advance? At least 14 days. [see https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/2020/08/bailiffs-about-to-awake.html ] The notice must specify the date and time of the eviction appointment.

But say the eviction does not take place on the specified date? Perhaps the bailiff or agent were off work with a bellyache or the court halted the eviction so that rent or mortgage payment arrears could be cleared but this has not happened. A new court procedural rule which comes into force on 07 August 2021 (see SI 2021/855) requires that a fresh written notice must be given which again specifies the date and time for eviction and at least seven days before the second appointment. 

The court does have power to dispense with the first or the second notice or to increase or shorten  the notice period.  This is something that landlord or tenant could raise with the judge at any court hearing at which the first appointment is being postponed or the second appointment is being arranged. Failure to give the prior notice - at least 14 or seven days - could invalidate an eviction that proceeded and entitle the tenant to ask the court to allow them back in and  for the eviction process to be restarted.

The Ministry of Justice has just updated its  guidance given to bailiffs and agents during the pandemic. It should be followed in England and taken into consideration in Wales alongside its own health and safety laws.  A check should be made with the household before bailiff or agent pounce and if it is established that an occupier has the virus symtoms or is self-isolating the action proposed should not go ahead. Oh and bailiffs and agents should not shout as that could increase the risk of virus transmission!

Also on the possession front, the temporary rules for landlords having to give a reactivation notice for  claims which were halted because of coronavirus are being extended to 30 November 2021 (Civil Procedure Rules 2018 Practice Direction 55C as modified by the 133rd update).