The Scottish government is to extend the country’s ban on evictions beyond its original 22nd January deadline until 31st March, raising concerns among many landlords and agents that similar moves may be afoot elsewhere in the UK.
Scots housing minister Kevin Stewart is to lay regulations before its parliament next week, extending the original ban to Level 3 and Level 4 Covid restriction areas, which cover the whole of Scotland at the moment bar a few islands.
This will be a blanket ban, the only exceptions being cases of serious anti-social behaviour, including domestic abuse. But many landlords and agents in England and Wales are now apprehensive that their government will follow suit.
Stewart says the extended ban is to provide renters with safe homes during the pandemic but also reduce the burden on local authorities, who have a duty to rehouse people made homeless through evictions.
On Wednesday told parliament, in reply to a challenge from Labour leader Keir Starmer, that the current evictions ban in England and Wales – which is due to finish on 11th January – is under review.
Labour MP Clive Betts (pictured), who chairs the housing, communities and local government committee, said: “It is disappointing the government is again leaving it until the last minute to announce an inevitable extension to the evictions ban.”
An extension to the ban in England and Wales, which is being implemented via a ban on bailiff evictions rather than a ban on court proceedings, would be highly unpopular among the thousands of landlords who are waiting to evict tenants who have deliberately stopped paying rent, with rent arrears stacking up.
“The six months’ notice of possession that landlords must give tenants, along with the court restrictions enabling only the most serious and urgent cases to proceed, and the restrictions on bailiff actions, mean it will be many months before landlords or lettings agents will be able to evict,” he says.