Property MattersCovid -19 Rules and Regulations
The courts in England and Wales reopened on 23rd August 2020 for all possession claims. It is unclear there will be a prioritisation of cases and if notice periods will revert back to the original time frames but here is what we know.
England and Wales
The Civil Procedure (Amendment No 2) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020, were bought into force on 25 June 2020. The 25 June is when the Government were hoping to open the courts for possession hearings. Though may restrictions began to ease, the courts remained closed until 23 August 2020. These regulations provide a temporary rule for possession proceedings and enforcement proceedings by way of writ or warrant for possession issued before 22 August 2020 are stayed.
To coincide with the courts opening on 23 August further rules were made through The Civil Procedure (Amendment No 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 and Practice Direction 55c Coronavirus: Temporary Provision in relation to possession proceedings.
Here are two different claims a “stayed claim” and a “new claim”. A stayed claim is a claim that was made on or before 22 August including an appeal from a decision for a claim. Any stayed claim on or before the 3 August needs a “reactivation notice”. Claims after 3 August and claims where judgement has been awarded do not. A £reactivation notice” must be served by 4pm on 29 January 2021 or the case will be stayed.
A new claim is any possession claim that has been made to the courts after 22 August.
If a claim included non-payment of rent, and independent of it a reactivation notice is required the landlord will need to supply the tenant and the court with up to two years’ rent payment information and all claims need any information about how the coronavirus has affected the tenant.
This amendment also suspends the standard period between issue of a claim form and a hearing. Normally claims should be heard within 8 weeks of the claim being issued. The 8 week period has simply been removed giving judges wide case management powers. These rules will stay in place until 28 March 2021.
From the 24 july, as stated in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020, a face mask must be worn when entering a “shop”. The interpretation of “shop” is any building, room or other indoor establishment which is open to the public in whole or part and used wholly or mainly for the purpose of retail sale or hire goods or services.
It is important to understand that this is to protect staff in the shop, who meet and serve hundreds of customers a day. However, the staff are not legally required to wear a face covering though it is recommended.
As the premises from which agents work qualifies as a “shop”. Any of the agent’s clients or customers must wear a mask whilst visiting the office (the usual exemption applying). Walk in visits should be avoided and visits are required by pre-arranged appointment.
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