The Government confirmed a suspension of housing possession court proceedings at the end of last week and landlords are being warned they could now face waiting until the end of the year to get their properties back.
The Ministry of Housing has suspended all ongoing possession cases for 90 days initially but said this could be extended if needed.
Paul Shamplina, founder of eviction specialists Landlord Action, said he has already seen cases scrapped.
He told EYE: “We were having cases for Landlord Action adjourned for three months before the announcement.
“We have hundreds of cases for landlords which will suspended.
“On those current cases already issued at court, the landlord and tenant relationship would have already broken down, but arrears will just accrue.
“So many landlords will be struggling. The reality is even if landlords were to get their properties back, they would be lying empty, as trying to find new tenants will be near enough impossible, with job uncertainty and bans on inspections and move ins.”
He said landlords would have to have open dialogue with their tenants, see proof that there tenant has been affected by the coronavirus and speak to their lenders for a mortgage payment break.
Shamplina added: “It is not in the bank’s interest to be aggressive with landlords.
“We have entered the unknown on how long this lasts, but landlords need to try and budget for the next three to six months if they can, because the reality is I cannot see them gaining possession from the courts from hearing stage to bailiff enforcement until the end of the year.
“The courts will be absolutely swamped with applications and the have left the door open to extend the suspension until September.
“I believe in the future there will be a pre-action protocol coming in, where landlords have to carry out a series of engagement before they can serve a notice.
“This current crisis will shape the future of gaining possession through the court system.”
ARLA Propertymark was supportive of the move.
David Cox, chief executive of the trade body, said: “However difficult it may be, this is the right decision in light of the current circumstances. Yet evictions will not be required if we can keep the rent flowing.
“The latest advice is that people stay put, and as long as the Government helps tenants pay their rent, there will not be a large build-up of debt from rent arrears, meaning there will be no logical reason why a landlord would start eviction proceedings.”