The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has now confirmed that it is to extend the ban on evictions to 20th September and also introduce six-month long notice periods that will run until 31st March 2021.
Secretary of State Robert Jenrick also confirmed that when the courts re-open they will prioritise the most serious cases such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as where landlords have not received rent for over a year and would otherwise face unmanageable debts.
“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 six months,” says Jenrick (above).
“I am also increasing protections for renters – six 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.”
The Government says it will keep these measures under review with decisions guided by the latest public health advice.
“The whole of the private rented sector has been impacted as a result of COVID-19 but we must recognise that the courts already faced a backlog of cases prior to the pandemic,” says Timothy Douglas, Policy and Campaigns Manger, ARLA Propertymark (left).
“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 through no fault of their own.”
Oli Sherlock (pictured, below), Head of Insurance at Goodlord, says: “Extending the evictions ban 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.”
Ben Beadle (pictured, below), CEO of the National Residential Landlords Association says a blanket extension is “unacceptable, especially so close to the deadline”.
“An enormous amount of work as gone into finding a balance between supporting tenants who have been affected by the pandemic and preventing significant financial harm to landlords, in accordance with the Government’s promise. This announcement satisfies no-one,” he says.
“Landlords have been left powerless in exercising their legal right to deal with significant arrears unrelated to Covid-19, antisocial 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. There must now be a plan to support households to pay their bills and to compensate landlords fully for their lost income.
“Only this will give both tenants and landlords security and reduce the risk of widespread tenancy failure. But this announcement also undoes months of preparatory work on pre-action protocols that many legal firms, landlords and letting agents had been working hard to prepare for.
Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action say s: “This is absolutely devastating news for those landlords who already had possession cases ongoing prior to the pandemic. It means those landlords with problem tenants who have been causing anti-social behaviour or withholding rent for reasons unrelated to Covid-19 face a further delay in regaining possession of the properties.
“Whilst no-one who has been impacted by Covid-19 should face losing their home, there are many cases that are unrelated and it is causing landlords extreme hardship and misery.