28 Oct 2020

Given the existing differences between the Covid-19 three-tier system in England, bailiffs have agreed not to carry out evictions of tenants in areas under tier 2 or 3 restrictions

England’s three-tier system of local restrictions currently divides areas into different categories, labelled as medium, also known as tier 1, high, also known as tier 2, or very high risk, which is referred to as tier 3, with varying levels of restrictions.

The move by bailiffs means people living in tier 2 and tier 3 areas, including Greater Manchester, Merseyside, London and much of the northeast of England, are protected from being removed from their properties.

Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, recently wrote to bailiffs’ trade associations requesting that they do not carry out evictions in tier 2 and tier 3 areas.

He wrote: “We would request that your members should instruct the enforcement agents working under their authorisation not to enter properties that are classified as local alert level two [high] or three [very high].”

With members of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association agreeing to the request, it is highly unlikely that people living in tier 2 and 3 areas will be evicted until at least 12 January.

A suspension of evictions is already in place over the Christmas period between 11 December and 11 January.

Andrew Wilson, chair of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association, said: “This is in line with the interpretation of the guidance that our members had already taken, but it is very useful to have it confirmed in writing from the lord chancellor.”

Chris Norris, the National Residential Landlords Association’s policy director, called for greater government support for tenants in arrears.

He commented “Whilst it is important that the courts are able to hear the most serious possession cases such as those related to anti-social behaviour, illegal activity such as fraud and extreme rent arrears, our focus needs to be on sustaining tenancies wherever possible.

“This means the government needs to bring forward a comprehensive financial package that will help tenants to pay off rent arrears built as a result of the pandemic.”

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