The Government has once more extended the bailiff evictions, this time until May 31st, a two month extension to the existing arrangements that were due to expire on March 31st.
Ministers have been under extreme pressure in recent weeks to give renters more protection from eviction despite light at the end of the tunnel for an end to restrictions.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured, above) says that, despite this roadmap, tenants still need to have a breathing space to clear their rent arrears and get their finances back on track.
As well as an extension to the bailiff ban, landlords and letting agents will also still have to give six months’ notice of their intention to evict. This means tenants some tenants who are served with evictions notices late in May won’t face physical eviction until at least November.
“These measures build on the government’s action to provide financial support as restrictions are lifted over the coming months – extending the furlough scheme, business rates holiday and the Universal Credit uplift,” says Jenrick.
But the National Residential Landlords Association has criticised the announcement saying it makes no provision to help either tenants or landlords hanging on by their finger nails financially after 12 months of Covid.
“If the Chancellor wants to avoid causing a homelessness crisis, he must develop an urgent financial package including interest free, government guaranteed loans to help tenants in arrears to pay off rent debts built since March 2020,” says Ben Beadle, its Chief Executive (pictured).
“This is vital for those who do not qualify for benefit support. Without this, more tenants face losing their homes, and many will carry damaged credit scores, making it more difficult to rent in the future and causing huge pressure on local authorities when they can least manage it.”
Several exemptions to the ban have been allowed. These are anti-social behaviour (4 weeks’ notice); false statements provided by the tenant (2 to 4 weeks’ notice); over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice) and breach of immigration rules under the ‘Right to Rent’ policy (3 months’ notice).
Timothy Douglas, Policy and Campaigns Manager, ARLA Propertymark (left), says: “The UK Government has yet again extended the ban on evictions in England, without putting any additional and specific measures in place to support the sector.
“With the furlough scheme extended until September, it is likely that we will see further changes in the months ahead. To this end, we urge the UK Government to consider a wider strategy and plan for how the sector can deal with rent arrears and the backlog of eviction cases, to avoid a mounting crisis.
“As the impact of Covid continues to bite with household debt and unemployment rates rising, we remain concerned about how tenants will avoid future rent arrears and landlords will remain incentivised to stay in the market. Rather than short term measures that are not helping those renters that need it most, the UK Government must focus on providing long-term support to help renters clear the debt and arrears they have built up during the pandemic.”