Conscious that the sector is raising significant concerns about a backlog in the Courts, he reminded the House of Commons that prioritising cases is the job of the judiciary, but he believes it is important that serious and antisocial cases are heard in the Courts as soon as possible.
He said that the Government has been engaging with a working group convened by the Master of the Rolls which includes both tenant representatives and landlord bodies. An early outcome of their work is changes to the court rules of possession proceedings.
These rules will apply within the existing legislative framework from 23 August.
At the end of June, ARLA Propertymark wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice expressing concerns for the management of housing possession cases in England and Wales when the current stay on possessions is lifted and that a robust and co-ordinated strategy must be developed as a matter of urgency.
Landlords seeking possession will need to set out relevant information about a tenant’s circumstances including information about the effect of the pandemic. This is designed to encourage landlords to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on the tenants’ circumstances, prior to seeking possession.
The Government voiced their encouragement for rent repayment plans and for rent payment flexibility. The Minister stated that current arrangements requiring landlords to give at least 3 months’ notice of their intention to seek possession, will continue until at least 30 September, in line with the measures set out in the Coronavirus Act 2020.
Renters have been provided with unprecedented financial support during the pandemic and these arrangements are in addition to the Job Retention Scheme, additional funding to boost the welfare safety net, and raising the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile.
The Government re-stated that they are committed to bringing forward both reforms designed to increase the security that tenants need and measures to strengthen the rights of landlords to regain their property when they need to do so. The legislation will be brought forward in due course.