There could be a significant increase in repossession cases in London once the tenant eviction ban ends this weekend, legal experts warn.
Given that thousands of tenants have struggled to pay rent during the pandemic lockdown, property litigation specialists Hägen Wolf fears that many renters now face the prospect of losing their home from next week after the government’s temporary ban on evictions ends.
The company points to Ministry of Justice data that shows London boroughs already account for nine of the ten local authorities with the highest rate of landlord possession claims. Barnet in north London had the highest rate at 120 per 100,000 households.
Matt Pugh, the managing partner at Hägen Wolf, said: “While the number of landlord possession actions at all court stages are currently low due to the protections the government put in place we expect that we will see a surge when the measures are lifted.”
Landlord claims are down at least 89% in comparison to the same quarter of last year against April to June 2020. But that is now set to change.
Some tenants who have been unable to pay have already received warning notices from landlords, and many more are now struggling to meet housing costs.
A number of landlords have agreed an affordable arrears repayment plan with tenants rather than moving to repossession proceedings, but others have been left with little alternative but to consider issuing a possession claim.
But there is a greater burden on landlords, who must now disclose any knowledge they have of how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their tenants and their dependants.
Pugh added: “While the stay is being lifted it is not going to lead to anything being done quickly because of the enormous backlog of claims and warrants, and only limited court resources. The Ministry of Justice has opened additional courts to try and deal with the backlog.
“Landlords and tenants can expect many months before a hearing, and then another long wait before an eviction is listed, along with a possible rise in applications to suspend citing Covid-related defences.”
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