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Ongoing possessions and eviction orders put on three-month hold

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Written by: Shekina Tuahene
27/03/2020
The protection for tenants, and struggling homeowners, has been widely welcomed
Ongoing possessions and eviction orders put on three-month hold

All ongoing housing possessions and the court process for landlords to evict tenants have been suspended in England and Wales for three months, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has said.

From 27 March, all housing possessions which are underway will not progress through to eviction for 90 days. This three-month suspension period can be extended if needed.

Eviction notices

As of 26 March, landlords are to give renters three months’ notice if they want to end a tenancy, but they are not allowed to apply to start the court process until after this period.

This extended grace period will apply in law until 30 September 2020 and the three-month notice can be increased if needed.

If a tenant has not moved out of the premises after the notice period, the landlord can apply for a court order.

All of these measures apply to private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Legal obligations

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) said tenants were still obligated to pay rent and should seek support if necessary. It encouraged landlords and tenants to work together to set up a rent payment scheme.

Since the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the government has announced it will pay up to 80 per cent of an employee’s wages to ensure they are still able to pay for rent and other expenses.

For those with tenants on benefits, Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will increase and from April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30 per cent of market rents in each area.

Buy to let landlords are also eligible for three-month mortgage payment holidays and the self-employed can claim up to 80 per cent of their profits if they face financial difficulties due to the pandemic.

Landlords are still legally obligated to ensure properties meet the required standard and urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made.

Any non-urgent repairs can be postponed following an agreement between tenants and landlords.

The right decision

David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “However difficult it may be, this is the right decision in light of the current circumstances. Yet evictions will not be required if we can keep the rent flowing.

“The latest advice is that people stay put, and as long as the government helps tenants pay their rent, there will not be a large build-up of debt from rent arrears, meaning there will be no logical reason why a landlord would start eviction proceedings.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, added: “We’re very glad to see the government has changed its approach and is now introducing a full ban on evictions, giving much-needed protection for renters at this critical time. Robert Jenrick should take a lot of credit for having listened and taken further action – as a result many thousands of people can now stay safe in their homes.”

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