I have spoken at numerous seminars and training events for housing associations dealing with the recent changes to eviction notices of proceedings relating to actions involving rent arrears.
The new changes were implemented on 1 August and make significant differences to court actions involving rent arrears.
Firstly, new rules require sheriffs to set a time limit on the period during which an eviction decree can be enforced. The maximum period allowable is 6 months. This change applies to all actions where rent arrears are the basis of the eviction. When a decree is now granted in such a case, landlords will have to carry out the eviction within the time set by the court. If they do not, the tenancy will simply continue as though the eviction order was never granted.
More significantly, public sector landlords will now require to follow a series of 'pre-action requirements' before they can serve the Notice of Proceedings which indicates that court action for eviction is being considered.
Landlords now must show that they have:
- Given clear information about the tenancy agreement and the unpaid rent or other financial obligations;
- Made reasonable efforts to give help and advice on eligibility for housing benefit and other types of financial assistance;
- Given information about sources of help and advice with the management of debt;
- Made reasonable efforts to agree with the tenant a reasonable plan for future payments;
- Considered the likely result of any application for housing benefit that has not yet been decided;
- Considered other steps the tenant is taking which are likely to result in payment within a reasonable time;
- Considered whether the tenant is complying with the terms of an agreed plan for future payments;
- Encouraged the tenant to contact their local authority (where the local authority is not the landlord).
With effect from 1 August, new standard forms of Notices of Proceedings have been introduced. There are now different forms to be used depending on whether the proposed action involves rent arrears or not. For style notices please click here.
A whole raft of statutory instruments have been passed setting out the details of these new changes and the Government have also issued Guidance on its impact
Our team of expert lawyers are on hand to answer any queries you may have regarding these new rules