Bringing possession claims against trespassers during covid-19 stay

As explained in our recent article on the restrictions on recovering possession of residential rental property during the current coronavirus pandemic, a new practice direction to the Civil Procedure Rules, Practice Direction 51Z, was introduced on 27 March 2020 that has effectively put on hold all types of possession proceedings for a period of 90 days. 

The stay was very wide-reaching and, to landowners' consternation, included a stay on bringing or progressing possession proceedings against 'persons unknown'. This raised concerns that if people decided to act in an unscrupulous way they might be able to take advantage of the 90-day stay to take up, or remain in, occupation of land/property as trespassers in the knowledge that no action could be taken to evict them for several months. 

Having now realised the perhaps unintended consequences of such a wide-reaching stay, Practice Direction 51Z was amended as of 20 April 2020.

the amendments mean that possession claims against 'persons unknown' will not now be caught by the 90-day stay and nor will applications for interim possession orders (against trespassers). The amendments also confirm that irrespective of the 90-day stay possession proceedings can still be issued - even though the majority will then be immediately stayed. 

For further information please contact Bryony Darnell. 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.