Housing cases during the Covid-19 crisis – latest news

20 July 2020

Two recent housing law developments hot off the press.

New rules

First, came the news on Friday 17 July that there is to be an amendment to the CPR to set out how possession cases (and proceedings for enforcement by writ or warrant of possession) are to proceed when they resume on 24 August 2020.

These are contained in the new the Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 (SI.No.751/2020) and are expressed to be temporary, with the current date for their expiry being 28 March 2021.

The actual wording has not been published, but it will apparently include:

  • a requirement for a claimant who wishes to resume stayed proceedings to inform the court and defendant in writing of this after the expiry of the stay in a 'reactivation notice';
  • requiring the claimant to provide (in the particulars of claim reactivation notice or for the hearing as appropriate) any relevant information about the defendant’s circumstances to include information on the effect of the pandemic on the defendant and his/her dependants, which will enable the court to have regard to vulnerability, disability, and social security position, and those who are 'shielding';
  • to allow the court to fix a date either on or after issue (so that hearings may be appropriately spread out and avoiding 'bunching');
  • to suspend the standard period between issue of a claim form and hearing which would not usually be more than eight weeks, again to spread out hearings appropriately, in particular, having regard to court capacity; and
  • to require a claimant so far as practicable to produce the full arrears history in advance rather than at the hearing.

New courts

Then over the weekend on Sunday (!) 19 July the Government announced the opening of 10 temporary “Nightingale Courts” to start to alleviate the pressure on full-time courts in the following locations:

  • Former county court at Telford, Shropshire
  • Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage
  • Swansea Council Chambers, Swansea
  • Cloth Hall Court, Leeds
  • Middlesbrough Town Hall, Teesside
  • East Pallant House, Chichester
  • 102 Petty France, London
  • Prospero House, London
  • Former magistrates’ court at Fleetwood, Lancashire
  • Knights’ Chamber and Visitor Centre, Bishop’s Palace, Peterborough Cathedral

The courts are apparently to begin hearing cases from “next week” (although actually only Chichester appears ready, and the rest will be up and running in August).

They will hear family and civil cases, as well as non custodial crime cases.

Housing law-related webinars offering more information

For more guidance on this and generally, our Housing Group are providing webinar training on:

  • Thursday 30 July at 4pm - Possession claims: what now and what next? A guide for tenant lawyers on current obligations, case management, relief from sanctions and preparing for the end of the stay
  • Wednesday 5 August at 4pm - Possession claims: what now and what next? A guide for landlords and their lawyers on case management, relief from sanctions, considering defences summarily and preparing for the end of the stay
  • Wednesday 19 August at 3.30pm - Housing law developments during Covid-19 and emerging trends.

To register

Please email the following details to events@fieldcourt.co.uk:

  • Your first name and last name
  • Your job title and organisation

Registered delegates will be sent login details in advance to join the webinar.