If an agreement on a way forward cannot be reached, resulting in a new claim for possession being considered or an existing claim in progress being reactivated, it is essential that landlords and tenants continue to try to discuss the level of arrears, the tenant’s financial situation and repayment of arrears.
Steps to take before notice is issued (including under Section 21 and Section 8, ground 8)
The landlord should write to the tenants outlining the reasons possession is being sought. If possession is for arrears, then this arrears pre-action plan should be followed. A failure to do so could result in your case being adjourned, which could delay it.
Landlords must declare if they know of any matters that should be taken into consideration, including if tenants, their dependants, or other occupiers have been affected by coronavirus and, if so, how this has impacted on their ability to pay rent.
Both parties should consider whether it is possible to resolve issues between them through discussion and negotiation, rather than formal legal proceedings (alternative dispute resolution).
The landlord should consider any representations received, and if proceeding with a claim, include any information that has been provided relating to the impact of coronavirus on the tenant’s ability to pay rent.
Landlords must keep copies of all documentation and a record of all correspondence or contact with the tenant, throughout the pre-action process, and provide the information to the court should proceedings be necessary.
If payment of rent is resumed by the tenant, or the tenant’s circumstances have changed and a reasonable plan to repay arrears is agreed, then the landlord should postpone issuing new court proceedings, or reactivating an existing claim, whilst the tenant meets the terms of such an agreement.
Should the tenant break the terms of the agreement, the landlord should inform the tenant if they intend to start or resume proceedings. It is important that both landlord and tenant, fully engage in the court process thereafter.
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