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

THESE truly uncharted times are evolving on a daily basis.

Over the past month, stringent social distancing measures have been introduced and businesses have been asked to work from home when they can.
This “Lockdown 2.0” is due to end on Wednesday, December 2 – although concerns endure that this date will be extended if the rate of infection doesn’t abate.

In short, economic uncertainty has been prevalent throughout most of 2020.

But this could finally be about to change.

It now seems likely that a Covid-19 vaccine will become available in the near future.

Over the past few weeks, there has been greatly encouraging news about successful trials and I, like everyone else, am resolutely hopeful that these developments will ultimately prove pivotal in vanquishing coronavirus.

At the time of writing, we don’t know when these vaccines will become available – but these major breakthroughs are nonetheless immensely promising.

Lockdown 2.0 & Property Receivership…

It’s worth noting at this point that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has not announced that those lenders it regulates should postpone repossession proceedings since the advent of Lockdown 2.0 in early November.

By contrast, when the first Lockdown commenced back in March the FCA was quick to issue definitive guidance that any lender it authorises should avoid either commencing or continuing possession proceedings until October 31.

That effectively means that November has been the first month since the pandemic commenced that authorised lenders have effectively been operating on a level playing field with the unregulated sector.

This was ever likely to place the courts under even greater pressure.

Separately, the Lord Chancellor wrote to bailiffs nationally when Lockdown 2.0 commenced requesting that they do not attend residential premises to serve notices of eviction or to enforce writs of possession.

There are a number of exceptions where evictions at residential premises can take place including: illegal trespass or squatting; nuisance or antisocial behaviour; and extreme levels of rent arrears, among others.

Nonetheless, the courts have remained open throughout November and at CG&Co we’ve continued to seek judgements.

It’s important to stress that orders for possession can still be obtained – they just can’t be implemented by the bailiffs.

As we all prepare for Lockdown 2.0 to be lifted on December 2, lenders also need to be mindful of the imminent arrival of the “Christmas truce”.

The Minister of State for Housing announced in September that this truce, which calls a halt to evictions over the festive period, will commence on December 11 and end on January 11.

Following the truce, the earliest bailiffs will be able to carry out evictions will be January 25, due to the requirement under Covid-19 rules to provide 14 days’ notice.

In other words, there will be an exceptionally slim window of opportunity – between December 2 and December 11 – for bailiffs to return keys to lenders unless there are exceptional circumstances.

After that, it will be a case of waiting until after January 25.

It’s precisely because of the constantly increasing pressures that are being placed on both the courts and the bailiffs that lenders need the most experienced, knowledgeable and proactive team of Property Receivers working on their behalf.

CG&Co has remained entirely focused on returning loans to lenders in the shortest timeframe possible throughout the pandemic.

And we’ll be adhering rigorously to our highly successful approach as these unprecedented times evolve in the days to come.