Following the temporary enactment of Practice Direction 51Z, all possession claims were stayed (put on hold) and a new Practice Direction came into force on 23 August 2020 allowing all stayed claims to be resumed. It was no surprise that the staying of possession claims was then extended, last minute, until 20 September 2020, possession cases are now being resumed.
The new rules are set out under Practice Direction 55C which confirms the courts will not be automatically resuming possession claims. The text of the new Practice Direction can be read here.
Under the new Practice Direction stayed claims will not be listed for a hearing or referred to a judge until one of the parties files with the court, and serves upon the other party, a ‘reactivation notice’.
The court rules do not confirm that there is a prescribed form required to be used for the re-activation notice. However, we have been informed by a County Court that the re-activation notice does in fact need to be in a required format.
The form is ‘Form RNC (Claimant)’ for Claimants who wish to re-activate their possession case. The re-activation notice form can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reactivation-notice-for-property-possession
It should be noted that the form does require landlords to inform the court of their knowledge on the impact of the coronavirus on the tenant and the tenants dependants (if any).
Landlords should attempt to obtain this information from their tenant before completing a re-activation notice. In certain cases, if a tenant is not communicating with the landlord, it will not be possible to provide this information to the court.
The courts are currently dealing with possession cases on a priority basis as opposed to a first come first served basis.
With a reported second waive of the coronavirus, it remains uncertain as to whether there could be further postponement of cases.