The barrage of changes to the law on possession and extension of protections for tenants has continued with the confirmation that:
- For commercial properties, the ongoing ban on forfeiture arising from non-payment of rent (as set out in Section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020) has been extended yet again until 31 March 2021.
This will mean an entire year will have passed where it is possible for a tenant to have not paid rent but continued to occupy, and where permitted trade, from premises.
The Government did announce this extension would be “final” but with the current levels of infection, it is entirely possible this will be revisited nearer the time.
- For residential properties, although possession orders could be obtained following the expiry of the stay in September 2020, they could not be enforced with the bailiff, effecting eviction. Regulations were introduced to prevent this until 11 January 2021 but it has been announced this will be extended until 21 February 2021. This is in line with the Government’s attempts to avoid increased homelessness and movement during a surge in the pandemic but again means landlords are powerless to recover their properties, whatever the circumstances (save for trespass or anti-social behaviour and domestic violence grounds which remain actionable).
The long term effect of COVID-19 and the restrictions on all our lives will continue long past a relaxation of restrictions, not least due to the cascade of measures bought in which will in due course expire or, in some cases, will lead to permanent changes in the law. We continue to watch developments.