Evictions in the private and social rented sectors are to be banned until late August, it has been announced, two months longer than originally planned.
Landlords and letting agents had been hoping that the original ban, which was due to run out on June 25th, would be discontinued.
But intense pressure from many of the UK’s leading organisations representing tenants including Shelter and Generation Rent has persuaded housing secretary Robert Jenrick that tenants needed longer to recover from the financial effects of the Coronavirus crisis.
“We are suspending evictions from social and private rented accommodation by a further two months,” says Jenrick. “Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.”
But evidence about how badly tenants are being affected by the economic downturn is hugely varied.
Data from letting agent Belvoir recently pointed to a rent default rate of up to 5%, but Shelter claimed in April that 2.3 million – or approximately 25% – of tenants were struggling to pay their rent.
“This decision means that some landlords will now be facing five months without receiving any rent as they can take no action against tenants who were not paying before the lockdown started,” says Ben Beadle (left), Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association.
“It also means more misery for tenants and neighbours suffering at the hands of anti-social tenants and will also cause exceptional hardship for a number of landlords, including many who depend on their rental income to live, for which there is no assistance.
“We have every sympathy with tenants who face genuine difficulties because of a loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis and nearly all landlords are working with tenants who are struggling to keep them in their home.”
“The government has reset the clock on the evictions ban, buying the families who were only weeks away from losing their homes, a vital stay of execution. But it’s only a stop-gap,” says Polly Neate (left), Chief Executive of Shelter.
“The ban hasn’t stopped people who’ve lost their jobs during this pandemic from racking up rent arrears. Even if they have a plan to pay them back, these debts will throw struggling renters straight back into the firing line of an automatic eviction as soon as the ban does lift.”