COVID-19 and squatters – a quick guide for commercial landlords
Julia Williams, 25th April, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is placing pressure on landlords of commercial premises not just the tenants. So far many of the measures introduced are designed to protect commercial tenants rather than commercial landlords.
Part three of a three-part blog for commercial landlords:
The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced restrictions on forfeiture for non-payment of rent before 30 June 2020. See our related blog post here.
Further legislation is planned to restrict the use of insolvency proceedings and Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) for recovery of arrears for those tenants that simply won’t or can’t pay. Read more about this in our related blog post.
To add to the landlord’s woes, the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (CPR) were amended on 27 March 2020. As a result, all possession proceedings (including those against squatters) and all evictions were stayed until 30 June 2020, with the possibility that the UK Government will extend the period further.
The new measures effectively rendered the Landlords of commercial premises helpless in the fight against squatters until at least the 30 June 2020.
Realising its error, on 18 April 2020, the Government amended the CPR further, so that commercial landlords can now issue proceedings or obtain an interim possession order, in order to remove squatters from their commercial premises. Landlords should note that it is a criminal offence to attempt to remove squatters without a court order. Legal advice should always be sought before attempting to evict squatters.