News, events and consultations

HLPA statement 23/03/2020 – amendments to the Coronavirus bill – possession claims

On 18 March 2020 under a press release headline “Complete ban on eviction and additional protection for renters” Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said:

“The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.

“These are extraordinary times, and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage.

“Which is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.”

Yet we are hearing today, 23 March 2020, that in fact the legislation amounts solely to an extension to three months of the notice period required for possession proceedings to commence.  That is not legislation to prevent an eviction process being started. Put at its highest it is grace period of one month and is entirely inadequate to the crisis at hand.

Former HLPA Chair Giles Peaker has posted the detail and his analysis here

The MHCLG has dangerously misunderstood the scale of the crisis facing tenants and other renters, both immediately and in the future. We all face financial insecurity as well as the health crisis over the coming months.

The government’s overwhelming priority should be to keep people safe and keep people secure during the period of the crisis.

The policy fails to get to grips with the very simple fact that ordinary people need the security of their homes in order to keep safe in a pandemic.  Furthermore, the public good lies in people remaining secure in their homes and not being forced to seek new accommodation with all the social contact that implies.

A household receiving a notice of possession proceedings would have to start to look for new accommodation immediately, regardless of the fact that the notice gives three months before court proceedings will commence.  It is staggering that the government does not recognise that.

In addition, there is nothing that protects renters in more insecure forms of letting arrangements such as lodgers and many people in HMOs. Again, if those people have to leave their homes because of the inaction of the government then they are extremely unlikely to be able to follow the current guidance on social distancing as they find somewhere else to live.  Many will not find anywhere to live and will add to the shameful increase in street homelessness.

The government needs to come to its senses and bring forward measures that properly protects all renters and in so doing protects the whole public.  We call for:

* A moratorium on all and any steps to evict tenants and licensees for a period of three months with an option to extend as necessary, including service of notices, commencement of possession proceedings, all orders for possession of any kind and all and any steps to execute any possession order

* Measures to prevent rent and licence fees accumulating and measures to support landlords to ensure that properties remain viable for letting

* Enhanced powers against landlords who carry out or attempt to carry out unlawful evictions including further criminal sanctions

In other words the government must shake itself out of its long held complacency about the rented sector and must now adequately respond to the “extraordinary times” referred to by the Minister just five days ago.

HLPA statement on Covid 19 crisis and Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes

HLPA welcomes the announcement from the MoJ today that new evictions and new possession proceedings are to be halted during the crisis.

However more needs to be done to protect our members and our clients. HLPA members are contracted to deliver advice and representation on housing possession duty days in county courts up and down the country. The conditions under which this is undertaken varies from court to court and advisers can see up to 20 or even 25 clients in a day, sometimes in tiny cramped designated rooms, sometimes in court waiting rooms. They are handling clients’ documents and have contact with any number of representatives for landlords as well as court staff. They are in and out of the court room all day.

This represents an unacceptable risk to our members, to clients, to landlord representatives and to court staff. The same risks that have led to criminal trials being stopped are present and even exceeded on housing possession court duty sessions.

At the same time it is surely in the public interest that people are not evicted from their homes, are not forced to seek new accommodation, are not obliged to view properties or allow viewings of their home to take place, and as in the worst cases are not made homeless.

The Court Services and Ministry of Justice should immediately:

• Place an automatic moratorium on all ongoing residential housing possession cases and evictions, with all such matters stayed for a specified period of time with any outstanding eviction dates voided

• Agree payments of average fixed amounts to suppliers delivering duty advice to ensure their sustainability during this period and to ensure they are in place to take up the duty sessions when the moratorium is lifted

AGM and Members’ Meeting on 18th March

Dear Members
Owing to the spread of the coronavirus and in order to reduce the risk of transmission, we have decided to postpone the meeting that was due to take place on 18th March. 
This will now take place at BPP’s Waterloo venue on 15th July. Further details will be circulated in due course

Next HLPA Meeting 16th September 2020

The next meeting will be held on 16 September on the topic of Samuels One Year On and the speakers will be Rosaleen Kilbane and Mike McIlvaney from the Community Law Partnership and James Stark from the North West Housing Law Practitioners Group.

Next HLPA Meeting 15th January 2020

Eligibility and Migrants’ Access to Housing

The Speakers will be Adrian Berry, Garden Court Chambers and Lou Crisfield, Miles and Partners LLP.

The Location of the Meeting will be BPP Law School, Lecture Theatre, Lower Ground Floor, 68-70 Red Lion Street, London, WC1R 4NY. Start time 18.30.

Dates of other meetings for your diary: 18th March, 20th May, 16th September, 18th November 2020

Next HLPA Meeting 11th December 2019

Housing Law Update

The Speakers will be John Gallagher, Shelter and Connor Johnston, Garden Court Chambers.

The Location of the Meeting will be BPP Law School, Lecture Theatre, Lower Ground Floor, 68-70 Red Lion Street, London, WC1R 4NY. Start time 18.30.

HLPA 2019 Conference Papers Now Online