Nottingham renters are being urged to understand their rights and look at what support is available for them, as the courts re-open to hear eviction cases paused during lockdown.
Although this will start from the week commencing 21st September here will be a backlog for the Court to deal with, and there will be delays, but landlords do still need to follow the legal process.
The Government has already announced changes to the law, so that there is an increase on notice periods to six months – meaning renters now served notice can stay in their homes over winter, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.
The only exceptions to this are the worst cases, including where tenants have demonstrated anti-social behaviour or committed other crimes, and the landlord rightly would like to re-let their property to another tenant. It’s also been announced that if there is a local lockdown that includes a restriction on gathering in homes, evictions will NOT be enforced by bailiffs.
During lockdown, Nottingham City Council has supported the police and other agencies with over 120 new cases of unlawful conduct at tenancies including significant levels of illegal eviction and harassment, much of which has been born out of frustration, but in some cases where it’s been wrongly assumed the council isn’t able to act. In some of the most extreme cases, a landlord has arrived at someone’s home and demanded they leave.
At the council, there are dedicated teams that support landlords with tenant issues and support tenants with housing or eviction issues.
If renters have any worries or issues with landlords when the courts re-open, then they can contact the Safer Housing team at Nottingham City Council. They can offer support and guidance on:
- Eviction Notices
- If you think you are being illegally evicted
- If you think your landlord isn’t following the new Government laws on evictions.
During the pandemic there has been a ban on evictions for six months, which is the longest eviction ban in the UK. However, from Monday 21 September courts will start to hear possession hearings again. When cases are heard again, these will be subject to new court processes and procedures, including:
- Cases will be prioritised – so those involving anti-social behaviour, other crimes and extreme rent arrears will be heard first
- No cases from before 3 August 2020 will immediately go to hearing, but will have to be ‘re-activated’ by the landlord and then subject to a new review hearing, at least four weeks before the substantive hearing
- Landlords will also need to provide the courts and judges with information on how tenants have been affected by the pandemic. Where this information is not provided, judges will be able to adjourn proceedings until the information is provided.
There will also be a ‘winter truce’ on the enforcement of evictions, with no evictions permitted in the run-up to and over Christmas except in the most serious circumstances, such as cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.
This will ensure vulnerable tenants are not forced from their homes at a time when public and local authorities may be dealing with the usual level of increased demand for services during this time. To achieve this, bailiffs will be told that they should not enforce possession orders over the Christmas period.
However, for cases with the most serious circumstances. The notice period has been shortened to least four, so that landlords can take action quicker if needed.
Cllr Linda Woodings, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage, said: “We know it has been a tough time for renters and landlords during the coronavirus pandemic. We are very conscious of the pressure on landlords and it’s important to stress that tenants who are able to do so must continue to pay their rent.
“Landlords have had support from the Government with funding and now renters are being protected over the winter months from losing their home. The large majority of landlords have shown understanding, taking action to support tenants despite facing hardship themselves.
“We have dedicated services here, who will help and support landlords and tenants with ASB issues, evictions and general housing conditions. I would urge either side to contact us if you need support or advice.”
If you believe you are being evicted illegally then contact Safer Housing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If a landlord is at your door demanding that you leave, please dial 999 immediately, but once the emergency has been looked at we’d like to hear from you too.
You can see the full Government announcement on evictions HERE.