Ban on new evictions extended two months
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, said the extension would take the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months after previously being granted for a three month period.
The temporary ban on evictions applies to social and private rented accommodation, though new court rules will also ensure vulnerable rents will be protected after the suspension is lifted.
Jenrick added that where tenants do experience financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, it expects landlords and tenants to work together and “exhaust all possible options” – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant’s individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort.
It comes as lockdown measures have eased while the housing market has been unlocked, allowing people to move if necessary. However, the government added that the “ultimate ambition” is to transition out of these measures at the end of August to “allow the market to operate while ensuring people have appropriate access to justice”.
Jenrick said: “We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic. The government’s ban on evictions will be extended for another two months. That takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months.
“Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.
“We are also working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions proceedings do recommence, arrangements, including rules, are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding.”
‘A sticking plaster not a cure’
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said while the extension will provide thousands of people with welcome breathing space, proper reform to eviction rules are required amid the pandemic.
Guy said: “Simply extending the pause of repossession is a sticking plaster not a cure. People who have fallen behind on rent arrears and those who have been furloughed or lost their jobs will need the security of proper reform to the rules governing evictions.
“We look forward to working with the government in the coming weeks on changes to make sure they keep their promise, that no renter should lose their home because of coronavirus.”