In a last minute U-turn the government has delayed the ending of the evictions ban until 20th September.

21/11/2020 00:00

The government also intends to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced the news, saying:
“I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of COVID-19. That is why today I am announcing a further 4 week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for 6 months.  “I am also increasing protections for renters – 6 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.”

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “It is right for the government not to lift the ban when it risks exposing people to eviction and the threat of homelessness with no means of defence. “The government must use this short window of time wisely to put proper safeguards in place for renters.”

Oli Sherlock, Head of Insurance at Goodlord responded to the news: “Extending the evictions ban to 20th September is simply kicking the can down the road. It’s helpful for neither tenants nor landlords. Arbitrary extensions simply delay the issue instead of addressing it and this announcement doesn’t seem to have come with a strategy attached. “There are tenants who will have arrears building up – leaving them with huge amounts of personal debt for every month they are unable to pay their rent. At the same, landlords are becoming increasingly anxious about meeting their mortgage commitments or accessing what is often their only source of income. Both groups need more support. “If we don’t use this extension wisely to come up with a better, more robust plan, we’re just compounding the issue. “The vast majority of tenants and landlords have been communicating effectively throughout this period and making concessions wherever possible to keep people in their homes. But with situations becoming more difficult for many, we need a better system to meet these new housing challenges.

“The Government needs to introduce greater financial support for renters and create new routes to get them into more affordable homes. And they need to strengthen the safety net for landlords who themselves are being financially impacted by the evictions ban. “Given the multitude of challenges landlord’s have faced in recent years, this decision will do very little to attract new landlords to the market – something which is desperately needed to meet increasing demand for quality housing for renters.”

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.”

Timothy Douglas, Policy and Campaigns Manager, ARLA Propertymark, said: “Now that the ban on evictions has been extended, the government must use this time to introduce further guidance and prepare the sector. 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, and this four week extension will give government the time to introduce such measures. “Additionally, given the backlog of cases already facing courts, it’s key that the government introduces sufficient guidance during this period to enable eviction proceedings to begin again smoothly and fairly when the ban is lifted.”

Law Society president Simon Davis said: “Today, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced that it would be extending the stay on evictions for a further four weeks, until 20 September. However, tenants are still required to pay their rent and landlords are still able to serve a notice of eviction, with a three-month notice period.” “The government first brought in these measures on 26 March 2020, for an initial period of three months. The stay was then extended on 5 June until 24 August and has now been extended again so vulnerable tenants can get the help they need, and courts can continue to make the necessary arrangements.

“The government and the courts have passed new court rules and provided extra protections to vulnerable tenants and those who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. “However, more needs to be done, including resolving the legal aid deserts currently preventing tenants in some areas from receiving legal advice and making wider legislative changes to prevent a spike in homelessness.”

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