Daniel Richardson, Property Receiver and Insolvency Practitioner, CG&Co

LET’S state the blatantly obvious…

We continue to live and work through truly unprecedented times.

The situation surrounding the pandemic has been evolving rapidly since the onset of autumn and I suspect that this will continue to be the case until a vaccine becomes readily available.

But when it comes to Property Receivership, just what’s possible at this point in time – and what can’t be achieved?

Just what is possible now?

It’s worth stating at this point that any lender authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) needs to follow the FCA’s latest guidance.

For unregulated lenders, the courts have been able to progress all repossession and enforcement claims since the six-month long stay was lifted on September 21.

And this has kept the judiciary exceptionally busy – there have been widespread reports that courts across England and Wales have been inundated.

At CG&Co, we’ve found that those courts we’re dealt with over the past month have coped well.

We decided at the start of the pandemic that we were going to take the most proactive approach possible and this has directly resulted in us having the requisite paperwork in place at the earliest opportunity.

For example, we made certain we were in possession of all relevant information about borrowers’ individual circumstances – including the pandemic’s effect on them – even before this data became an intrinsic part of the reactivation process.

CG&Co was pleased when our stayed repossession hearings were immediately scheduled for hearings throughout October and November – it proved that our approach has been the right one.

Following this, we were also able to swiftly and successfully appoint bailiffs.

But this situation is already evolving…

What is not possible now?

On October 21, the Ministry of Justice wrote to bailiffs’ trade associations requesting that they do not carry out evictions in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas.

Bailiffs have since agreed to follow this request.

Under the new Local Covid Alert Level system, all local authority areas in England are classed as being in Local Alert Level Tier 1 (medium risk), Tier 2 (high risk) or Tier 3 (very high risk).

This means that evictions will now no longer go ahead in vast swathes of the country – stretching from the North East down to London and Essex – which are classed as Tier 2 or 3.

Nonetheless, it’s worth stressing that this situation applies only to warrants for execution and proceedings can continue up until this point.
In other words, an order for possession can be obtained – just not implemented.

To conclude…

What the latest developments mean, in précis, are that lenders who were attempting to evict borrowers in areas now classed as Tier 2 or 3 had a window of just over four weeks after the stay was originally lifted on September 21 to execute possession orders.

If it didn’t occur within that timeframe then it’s now unlikely to happen until the new year.

To my mind, this is further evidence that during these highly uncertain times it remains truly imperative to adopt the most proactive approach towards Property Receivership.

CG&Co remains determined to ensure that the lenders we work for have their loans repaid as quickly as possible.

We intend to continue taking the same highly proactive and professional approach to Property Receivership that we’ve adopted throughout the pandemic.

There’s simply too much to lose by not doing so.