Possession Proceedings — an end to review dates
Measures put in place due to the pandemic regarding the Overall Arrangements for Possession Proceedings in England and Wales are brought to an end.
The Master of the Rolls has announced that from 1 November 2021, the Overall Arrangements for Possession Proceedings in England and Wales have ceased to have effect. This brings to an end many of the court’s COVID-influenced measures including review dates and the prioritisation of cases based on the level of rent arrears.
The Overall Arrangements were put in place by the courts following the stay of Possession Proceedings at the beginning of the pandemic. They set out informal guidance as to how possession claims were to be prioritised and managed by the courts. Review dates were introduced as a mechanism for defendants to obtain early advice and for parties to engage, and claims would only be listed for a hearing following the review date.
No date had originally been set for an end to the Overall Arrangements, but the Master of the Rolls announced on 3 November 2021 that they had ceased to have effect from the start of the month. Possession claims should now be listed and proceed as they used to before the pandemic.
Landlords are likely to find that the early stages of possession claims will move faster, though it remains to be seen whether courts will choose to return to the previous block listing of possession claims which was stopped following the introduction of the Overall Arrangements.
The temporary rules set out in Practice Direction 55C are scheduled to come to an end on 30 November 2021 and a decision on whether they will be extended, amended or ended is awaited. In the meantime, claimant landlords must continue to comply with those rules, including the requirement to file a notice with the court setting out any information the claimant has about the effect of the pandemic on the defendant and their dependants.
Master of the Roll declares, possession claims should now be listed and proceed as they used to before the pandemic.
For any further information or expert advice, contact our social housing solicitors.