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Possession claims went down, not up

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Re-opening the courts last year after their six month Covid closure, did not lead to a surge in possession actions, Cloud software specialist Decorus for Sage has reported.

Despite mounting rent arrears during the three UK lockdowns, most recent data from the Ministry of Justice shows that the number of landlord possession actions for all court stages actually dropped significantly between October – December 2020.

Compared to the same quarter in 2019, landlord possession claims fell by 67 per cent. Orders for possession were down by 89 per cent, warrants were down by 86 per cent and repossessions by 93 per cent.

The group making up the largest proportion of possession claims were private landlords (43 per cent or 3,619), followed by social landlords (27 per cent or 2,268).  Just under a third were accelerated claims (30 per cent or 2,495).

Landlords are facing very lengthy court action, with the government figures showing that the median average time from claim to repossession has more than doubled, with an increase to 43.0 weeks, up from 21.0 weeks in the same period in 2019.

‘Landlords are facing increasing rent arrears, with the latest NRLA figures indicating that over 800,000 tenants in England and Wales have built arrears since lockdown measures started in March 2020’, said Decorus for Sage managing director Paul Oxley.

‘Many tenants have found themselves in financial hardship as result of job losses and redundancy and this places landlords in a very difficult position. Mounting arrears can put severe financial strain on a landlord’s cashflow, so if they are faced with a tenant that has stopped paying the rent, they should immediately open up communications to ensure they have a good understanding of the tenants’ financial circumstances. 

‘Legal action is the last resort and should only be considered when all the other options have been discounted. If there are no alternatives to court proceedings, it is vital that landlords follow the correct procedures to secure a court order to evict a tenant from their home. Damages for unlawful eviction of a tenant can be several thousands of pounds and the legal process alone will cost a minimum of £800’.