A legal challenge has been started to the government’s current ‘ban’ on bailiff-enforced evictions in the private rental sector.
High profile property lawyer David Smith is now leading a legal challenge to the ban, which was triggered by a written request to bailiffs by the government not to enforce possession cases agreed by courts. Initially this was to apply to Tier 2 and Tier 3 but it has now been extended across England for the duration of the current lockdown.
Smith, who is a partner at JMW Solicitors, has spoken out against the way in which the de facto ban was introduced via a letter from the Lord Chancellor, and he says: “Such an important decision cannot simply be made by writing a letter on a whim. Many cases of rent arrears were in place before Covid-19 hit – and landlords must be able to tackle the most serious cases.”
He continues: “This letter from the Lord Chancellor does not constitute a legal framework and has breached the landlords’ civil and human rights as well as usurping the power or Parliament. This must be corrected, and quickly.”
Smith says he does not challenge the right of government to prevent evictions if it wishes to but he believes it should be done by making regulations under the appropriate legislation and allowing Parliament to review them, not through what he describes as “backdoor letters to enforcement bodies.”
Smith - who appealed for landlords to mount a challenge earlier this month - submitted his claim for a Judicial Review on November 6 and a response is expected this week.
The initial nationwide ban on evictions introduced in the early spring was part of the Coronavirus legislation, and came while courts were also closed as part of the spring lockdown.