Tenant eviction ban ends soon: Help for renters worried about losing homes
Tenant evictions have been on hold since March as part of measures to protect households from the coronavirus crisis.
Court cases were scheduled to resume in August, before the government announced it would extend the eviction ban by one month to Sunday 20 September.
With previous research revealing 230,000 private tenants have fallen into arrears since the start of the pandemic, the looming eviction ban end will leave many concerned about the possibility of losing their home.
Charity Citizens Advice reported that the number of people seeking help about issues to do with private rented properties increased 43% between summer (June to August) 2020 and the same period last year.
Over the same period, the number of visits to Citizens Advice’s webpage ‘dealing with rent arrears’ more than doubled year-on-year.
Amy Hughes, housing expert at Citizens Advice, shares the top five ‘need-to-knows’ for renters in England worried about staying in their home…
1) Find out where you are in the process
If your landlord wants to evict you from your privately rented home there are three stages they’ll have to go through. First, they’ll need to serve you with a notice. When this expires go to court to get a possession order, and finally apply for a bailiff visit to evict you.
If your landlord has not yet given you a formal notice, then you won’t be evicted for many months. If your landlord has already got a possession order and applied for a bailiff date, you might be evicted with just 14 days’ notice.
2) If you haven’t received notice yet but are worried about eviction
If you haven’t yet been given notice, but are worried about the possibility, talk to your landlord. Explain the effect that coronavirus has had on your household and income. Ask if they’ll accept reduced payments, or let you pay back arrears at a rate you can afford.
Both the government and the landlords’ body the NRLA have asked landlords to be sympathetic to tenants affected by the pandemic. You should also make sure you’re receiving all the benefits you might be entitled to.
3) If you’ve received a notice
The rules on the notice your landlord must give have changed — it may now be up to six months depending on when the notice was served.
The notice must also be in a specific form, so make sure you have a copy and get it checked. Your local Citizens Advice is one place that can help, either in person or via email. If the landlord hasn’t followed other rules during your tenancy this might also mean that the notice is invalid.
Your landlord can only make a claim to court after the notice ends. You don’t need to leave by this date, but going to court might mean costs are added to your debt if the notice is valid.
4) If your notice is expiring and you’re due to go to court
After 20 September, courts will start hearings again. If your landlord started the claim after 3 August, you’ll be given a court date automatically, otherwise the landlord will need to serve a ‘re-activation notice’ to restart proceedings.
Return your defence form if you want the court to consider your evidence or allow you extra time in the property. Supply any evidence of information which you gave your landlord about the effect of Covid-19 on your household and of any payments you’ve made.
The court will look at the information provided by you and the landlord and decide whether to make an order for possession. In some cases you might be able to stay if you can agree to affordable repayments, but the court has no discretion to allow you to stay if you’ve had a valid Section 21 notice – so called ‘no fault eviction’.
If the possession order is granted, it will usually ask you to leave within two to six weeks.”
5) If you’ve had a possession order and are facing eviction
If the court had already decided your case before the eviction ban started (27 March 2020), you may be given 14 days’ notice after 20 September that bailiffs will carry out an eviction.
You should seek urgent advice – from Citizens Advice or another housing charity – about whether there’s any way to prevent or delay the eviction, or about finding alternative accommodation.