U-turn on tenant eviction ban as government extends by four weeks
The UK government extended the ban on landlords evicting tenants in England and Wales today until 20 September in a dramatic last-minute U-turn hours before the ban was due to end, following fears that up to 243,000 could lose their homes.
In most cases, renters will also get six months’ notice if their landlord plans to evict them until the end of March.
The block on tenant evictions during the coronavirus pandemic was due to end on Sunday and courts were due to resume section 21 and section 8 eviction cases on Monday after a five-month pause.
The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick talked of “supporting renters over winter” adding that, when the ban was lifted, the most serious cases of anti-social behaviour, other crimes, and unpaid rent for over a year would be heard first.
Prior to the pandemic, a notice of eviction was normally two months, but in Wales, that had already been extended to six months until the end of September and remains under review.
The last-minute reprieve for tenants comes amid warnings by homelessness charity Shelter that more than 170,000 private tenants have been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent, and 230,000 in England have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “A blanket extension is unacceptable, especially so close to the deadline. This announcement satisfies no-one.
“Landlords have been left powerless in exercising their legal right to deal with significant arrears unrelated to Covid-19, anti-social behaviour and extremely disruptive tenants who make life miserable for their neighbours and housemates.
“Private landlords cannot be expected to foot the bill for government failure.”
The National Residential Landlords Association is worried that landlords have been left powerless in dealing with non-payment of rent, which in most cases is needed to pay their mortgages.
Landlord groups have called for more help in England to reduce the financial pressures on landlords, in addition to mortgage holidays.
Local authorities would be unable to house thousands of homeless people at a time when they are struggling to cope with thousands of illegal migrants crossing the English Channel on small boats every week.
Citizens Advice for tenants
- Tenants under threat of eviction should start gathering evidence such as receipts for rent paid or any communications with your landlord
- Landlords have to give you notice before they can apply to court for a possession order. For most tenancy types this notice must now be at least three months in England or six in Wales, but lodgers may get less notice
- If a possession order had already been made against you before 27 March 2020, then your landlord may apply for this to be enforced when the ban comes to an end. You should receive 14 days’ notice of the eviction date
- Anyone now struggling to pay rent should speak to their landlord, and organise a repayment plan to pay off arrears
- Those receiving housing benefit or Universal Credit and unable to pay rent might be able to get a discretionary housing payment from the local council
Source: Citizens Advice
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