In Merritt v Thurrock Council & Anor, the Claimant, Ms Shantelle Merritt was a Tenant in a property provided by the First Defendant, Thurrock Council. The Council were providing Ms Merritt with temporary accommodation. The property was owned and managed by the Second Defendant, Midos Management Co Limited.
Whilst Ms Merritt was occupying the property, Thurrock Council found that they had discharged their main housing duty to Ms Merritt as she had refused an offer of suitable accommodation.
Midos Management Co Limited emailed Ms Merritt to tell her the property would be repossessed and that she should vacate. Ms Merritt did not vacate and found that the locks to the property had been changed when she returned to the property.
Midos Management Co Limited paid for Ms Merritt and her daughter to stay in a hotel for the night. However, Ms Merritt later returned to the property with the intention of collecting some clothes and other belongings. On arrival at the property, she found that the back door lock could still be reopened and she regained occupation with her daughter.
Ms Merritt, therefore, sought injunctive relief against Thurrock Council to fully reinstate her in the property and an injunction to prohibit her from being unlawfully evicted.
Midos Management Co Limited sought injunctive relief against Ms Merritt and submitted an application for an injunction to compel Ms Merritt to give up possession of the property and refrain from attempting to re-enter the property given her previous act of reentering.
The interim injunction sought by Ms Merritt was refused and Midos Management Co Limited’s interim injunction was allowed. However, in her Judgment, the Judge stated that ‘‘The Covid-19 pandemic cannot be ignored’’
At the time of the Judgment, there was a suspension on the execution of any warrant or writ in relation to the possession of the property. Therefore, the Judge suspended any enforcement of the injunction until the expiry of the suspension until 21st February 2021.
This case confirms the importance of adequately securing your property once you have possession of a property. Furthermore, if you have a tenant wishing to collect belongings that they have left, you must make sure they do so in a manner in which they cannot gain possession again.
It also indicates that trespassers are still currently protected by the suspension on the execution of possessions.
Moreover, the suspension on the execution of possessions has recently been extended until 31st May 2021 and the guidance and legislation is ever-changing.
We also have a range of other articles which you may also find beneficial, these are listed below:
- The Coronavirus Act 2020: Residential Landlords & Possession Proceedings
- Should employees take the vaccine?
- 3 Ways To Reduce Staff Turnover
For the most up to date advice and correct procedures when issuing documentation for possession of a residential property, please do not hesitate to contact our Dispute Resolution Team.