Letting agents and landlords waiting for the evictions ban to end have been given much-needed good news after the government revealed that bailiffs will be able to restart their work from 1st June.
The announcement is part of a raft of changes to the evictions ban that are part of the government’s roadmap to normality for England and Wales and will see evictions restrictions being wound down.
Bailiffs re-starting will coincide with a reduction in the Section 8 eviction notice period landlords must give to tenants from the current six months to four months, including for Section 21 evictions – a significant concession to the industry, which had expected that Section 21 would be left out of any deal.
Notice periods will then return to ‘normal’ on 1st October, so between two weeks and two months depending on the grounds being claimed.
Also, on 31st May the ‘serious arrears’ grounds period will be reduced from six months to four months, enabling landlords to begin proceeding earlier, with a further reduction expected in August.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher, who signed off the legislative changes, says: “As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the Roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.
“Crucial financial support also remains in place including the furlough scheme and uplift to Universal Credit.”
Ben Beadle (pictured), Chief Executive of the NRLA, who has been lobbying ministers on the changes, says: “Having operated under emergency conditions for over a year, today’s announcement from the Government is an important step in ensuring the sector’s recovery.
“It does nothing though to address the rent debt crisis. With the number of private tenants in arrears having increased threefold since lockdown measures started, more are at risk of losing their homes as restrictions ease.
“We want to see tenancies sustained wherever possible and call on the Chancellor to step in and provide affected tenants with the financial support they need to pay off rent arrears built as a result of the pandemic.”
Oli Sherlock (left), Head of Insurance at Goodlord, says: “While the ban was clearly a well-intentioned decision designed to protect tenants, it has caused financial distress to some landlords and enabled rogue renters to avoid paying rent in isolated cases.
“The key concern throughout, however, has been and remains what happens after the ban is lifted.
“Renters who have amassed arrears will soon be faced with the need to repay or face eviction. And courts are braced for a deluge of cases to process evictions that they may struggle to cope with. What the Government needs to do now is ensure that robust, effective mediation services are available to all and that tenants and landlords are both clear on their rights and responsibilities.”
Mark Hayward, Chief Policy Advisor at Propertymark, says: “Whilst the reduced notice periods are still longer than pre-COVID, it is pleasing to see the UK government continuing to provide financial support to tenants, combatting rent arrears as well as providing clarity for the rental sector as we navigate the easing of restrictions.”