9 June 2020

News Blast – Residential Possessions (June)

We have already reported about the extension implemented by the Coronavirus Act 2020 to the length of notice that most possession notices and notices to quit must give before possession proceedings may be started.

Possession Proceedings Moratorium

In addition to the change to the length of notices, possession proceedings themselves have also been subject to recent pandemic related reform.

CPR Practice Direction 51Z ("PD51Z"), a revised version of which was published on 20 April 2020, works to automatically stay (freeze) all possession proceedings begun under CPR 55 subject to a number of exceptions:

  • Claims for possession against trespassers to which CPR 55.6 applies;
  • Applications for interim possession orders pursuant to Section III CPR 55;
  • Applications for case management directions agreed by all parties;
  • Claims for injunctive relief.

PD51Z also stays all proceedings seeking to enforce orders for possession by way of warrants or writs of possession.

Can I issue possession proceedings or apply to enforce a possession order during the stay?

Yes, the imposition of PD51Z does not prevent the issuing of a claim, which had been a concern where limitation periods were approaching and time limits for applications for relief from forfeiture were relevant. You can also make an application to enforce a possession order but both types of action will be immediately, and automatically, stayed.

How long will the stay be in place for?

Whereas PD51Z was initially due to be lifted on 25 June 2020, a government press release has revealed that it will be extended in its current form until at least 23 August 2020.

What will happen about the backlog when the stay is lifted?

We understand that a working group on possession proceedings has been established by the Master of the Rolls to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place in all County Courts when possession claims resume.


The current global crisis is evolving rapidly, and the rules and guidance for individuals, companies and other entities to manage its implications are similarly fast moving. Notes such as this may be out of date almost as soon as they are published. If you have any questions prompted by this article or on any other matter relevant to you, please get in touch with your usual contact at Forsters.

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