The Courts have now moved to drastically limit landlords' ability to recover possession of premises through proceedings.
In addition to the moratorium on forfeiture for non-payment of rent, a new Practice Direction supplementing the Civil Procedure Rules (Practice Direction 51Z) now automatically stays all possession claims by a period of 90 days. No action in such claims, including in relation to trespassers or squatters, can therefore be taken until at least 25 June 2020.
The Practice Direction does not extend the stay to claims for injunctive relief. However, in the case of proceedings involving trespassers or squatters, a claim for an interim injunction requires a much greater burden on a landlord claimant to establish that there is a real and substantial risk of damage being caused.
In any event, the Practice Direction also prevents any order for possession being enforced by way of writ or warrant for possession during the same period.
The perhaps unintended consequence here is that landlords who are faced with trespassers at their property do not have the usual mechanisms of bringing proceedings to quickly recover possession.
We await to see whether the Courts amend or clarify these new measures in due course.
It follows the Coronavirus Act 2020 emergency legislation and complements the provisions herein to prevent imminent evictions and delay possession proceedings.