Ban on evictions extended again until 31 March
The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced extended support for renters during the ongoing national lockdown, with a further extension to the ban on evictions.
This is a six week extension to the ban, which was set to end on 22 February, plus the government said that measures would be ‘kept under review in line with the latest public health advice’.
A limited number of evictions can still take place due to exemptions for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords and neighbours, such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of six months’ rent or more.
Landlords are also required to give six-month notice periods to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the most serious circumstances.
This means that most renters now served notice can stay in their homes until at least August 2021, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.
For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.
Housing Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time.
“Our measures strike the right balance between protecting tenants and enabling landlords to exercise their right to justice.
“Court rules and procedures introduced in September to support both tenants and landlords will remain in place and regularly reviewed, with courts continuing to prioritise the most cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector.”
Criticism from landlords
The chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, Ben Beadle, said many landlords are now facing financial crisis and need government support.
“Today’s announcement does nothing to help over 800,000 private renters who have built rent arrears since lockdown measures started last year,” he explained.
“It means debts will continue to mount to the point where they have no hope of paying them off. It will lead eventually to them having to leave their home and face serious damage to their credit scores.
“The Government needs to get a grip and do something about the debt crisis renters and landlords are now facing. A package of hardship loans and grants is needed as a matter of urgency. To expect landlords and tenants simply to muddle through without further support is a strategy that has passed its sell by date.”