Housing cases during the Covid-19 crisis: part 2

20 April 2020

Further to Jonathan Pennington Legh’s update about housing cases during the Covid-19 crisis, CPR PD 51Z has been amended to deal, to a certain extent, with case management, trespassers and interim possession orders.

Perhaps of most interest and importance is the provision that parties can agree case management directions in possession claims and apply for those directions to be made during the stay period. This is encouraging as it allows proceedings brought under CPR Part 55 to move forward albeit not to a final trial. Although the agreement of all parties is required which may well be an issue, the inclusion of such an exception must mean there is an expectation parties continue to discuss case management and apply for directions if that would be an appropriate and sensible course in the context of the litigation.

Additionally, the stay does not apply to a claim against trespassers to which CPR rule 55.6 applies. It should be noted that r.55.6 provides for “service of claims against trespassers”. It begins with: “Where, in a possession claim against trespassers, the claim has been issued against “persons unknown”…”. This begs the question of whether for the stay under PD 51Z to be disapplied the defendants would have to be “persons unknown” as opposed to named trespassers. On a plain reading, this must be what it means.

Finally, the stay period does not apply to an application for an interim possession order under Section III of Part 55, including the making of such an order, the hearing required by rule 55.25(4), and any application made under rule 55.28(1).

If you have any queries about housing or property matters during this time, please contact us so you can be put in touch with a member of the relevant specialist teams.