Update on the Government’s “Winter truce” when bailiff’s appointments will not take place.

Update on the Government’s “Winter truce” when bailiff’s appointments will not take place.

In our previous blog of 17th September 2020 we advised  that the Government intended to exercise a “winter truce” so that renters were not evicted over the winter period. The Government did not immediately provide details of the relevant dates.

The Ministry of Justice has now advised that guidance will be issued to bailiffs instructing that they should not enforce possession orders in England and Wales between Friday 11 December 2020 and Monday 11 January 2021 to “ensure that struggling households are not forced from their homes over the Christmas period “

The announcement goes on to say that  “We recognise that in some cases, such as in cases of anti-social behaviour, failure to proceed with an eviction during this period could cause undue damage and distress for landlords, other tenants and the wider community. We will issue further guidance to bailiffs clarifying the circumstances in which it might be appropriate for an eviction to go ahead during the period covered by the winter truce.”

“ In addition it has been reported that Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor has written to the bailiffs’ trade associations requesting that they do not enter premises in areas that are classified as local alert level 2 ( high) or 3 (very high). The High Court Enforcement Officers Association is said to have agreed to the request  until 12th January 2021. Andrew Wilson, chair of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association, said: “this is in line with the interpretation of the guidance that our members had already taken, but it is very useful to have it confirmed in writing from the Lord Chancellor.”

“Shelter have pointed out that following the lifting of the stay in possession proceedings, cases can still proceed through the Courts whilst the National Residential Landlords Association are calling for a comprehensive financial package  from the Government to address  the arrears built up  as a result of the pandemic. “

The Courts are beginning to issue notices of bailiffs appointments but are generally taking them in chronological order, relisting those that were stayed in March 2020 first. With the substantial backlog and the winter truce period, bailiffs appointments are most likely to be listed in 2021 especially if the request for the appointment was made after September 2020.

If you have any queries concerning this or residential possession proceedings generally please contact Jeremy Teall on 0208 567 3477 by  e-mail on jeremy.teall@prince-evans.co.uk