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Minister rejects evictions ban extension and heralds new ‘pre-action’ rules

Housing minister says new requirements for landlords prior to a possession starting, will protect tenants from unwarranted eviction, despite Labour opposition to scheme.

Nigel Lewis

pincher evictions

Housing minister Christopher Pincher (pictured, above) has swept aside calls in parliament to extend the evictions ban and said that new pre-action rules introduced on Friday will be sufficient ahead of possession hearings re-starting on August 24th.

As well as saying he was convinced “we’ve struck the right balance between tenants’ needs and landlords’ rights” Pincher also confirmed that the government does not intend to make Section 21 and Ground 8, Section 8 notice eviction decisions discretionary for magistrates, as Labour and many housing campaigners have been asking for.

Instead, the minister said the new pre-action rules, which require landlords and letting agents to check whether COVID has been a financial or medical factor in non-payment of rent prior to a hearing, would be a sufficient barrier to prevent a cliff edge of evictions.

Focus minds

“If the information that landlords provide is not appropriate then the courts will be well within their rights to adjourn the case which will cost landlords time and money, and focus their minds,” Pincher said.

His comments were made during a debate in parliament yesterday afternoon during which it was claimed that 200,000 tenants face being evicted this year as the economic outcome of the COVID pandemic begins to bite.

Shadow housing minister Thangam Debbonaire also said the pre-action rules ‘simply won’t do’ if the government is keen to stop a wave of evictions  this Autumn.

Pincher said that evidence he had seen shows that 90% of tenants have managed to pay their rent during the pandemic and that a majority of those who have not feel they have had a positive reaction from their landlord.

The minister also rebuffed several Labour MPs who warned of a ‘tsunami’ of evictions in the coming months and said they should be careful not to spread fear ‘among potentially vulnerable tenants and landlords where feature should not exist’, he said.

July 23, 2020

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