Eviction ban and notice periods extended
Evictions have been on hold since March as part of measures to protect households from the coronavirus crisis, but courts had been set to resume cases from Monday.
Housing charity Shelter found that more than 230,000 private tenants have fallen into arrears since the start of the pandemic and campaigners had called on the government to protect renters suffering financially as a result of the pandemic.
And now the government has agreed to extend the ban to protect tenants from losing their home until September 20.
Tenants in England will also get at least six months’ notice of eviction in England, an increase from the previous notice period of three months. After this period is up courts can hear a case.
Anti-social tenant cases will be prioritised by courts when they start hearing cases, according to housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
He said: “I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of Covid-19.
“That is why I am announcing a further four week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for six months.
“I am also increasing protections for renters – six-month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.
“However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again; and so when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases.”
Short-term fix but bailiff action will resume
Jane Tully, director of external affairs for the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said this is a short-term relief for private tenants at risk of eviction.
“With the extension of the ban only lasting four weeks, the government should put in place a comprehensive plan to protect these tenants before this extension ends.
“Meanwhile, concerns over the end of a similar ban on bailiff visits in England and Wales – which is still set to expire this Sunday – remain unaddressed. There is a real risk of a surge in bailiff action relating to council tax and other debts over the coming months, which poses both financial and public health risks.
“The government either needs to extend its ban on bailiff visits, or otherwise put in place urgent guidance to ensure people struggling with problem debt are protected from harm.”
However, landlord and letting associations want the ban to end.
Courts face backlog of cases
Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manger, ARLA Propertymark said: “The whole of the private rented sector has been impacted as a result of Covid-19 but we must recognise that the courts already faced a backlog of cases prior to the pandemic.
“It is important to take steps back towards normality so that both landlords and tenants have access to the justice system, while putting measures in place to offer further support to tenants who have built up Covid-related arrears through no fault of their own.”