The government has introduced new Coronavirus regulations to parliament that set out the narrow circumstances under which evictions can take place.
On 5 November, the Government said renters would be protected during the second national restrictions with no bailiff enforcement action, except for the most ‘egregious cases’ such as anti-social behavior.
The statement also said that an exemption would be introduced for extreme pre-Covid rent arrears cases, which has have become law today.
Called The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020, they reveal that tenants who have more than nine months’ rent arrears before March 24th this year can now be evicted, if a landlord or letting agent has a possession order already approved by the courts.
The news gives many desperate landlords facing tenants who owe thousand of pounds in rent a glimmer of hope.
But tenant must have built up nine months or more of rent arrears before the Covid pandemic began in late March, meaning many landlords will have already been waiting for 17 or 18 months before being allowed to evict.
Paul Shamplina (pictured), founder of Landlord Action says: “This is very welcome news for those landlords whose tenants had stopped paying rent months prior to the pandemic and, until now, had been given carte blanche to continue living rent free.
“However, there are concerns about how long it will take those landlords, whose arrears cases fall short of the Government’s definition of “substantial” i.e. nine months, to regain possession.
“Put simply, landlords are not banks or the welfare state. In fact, banks get their money back, but landlords are expected to swallow these losses.”
The other more standard reasons why evictions can proceed include trespass, a tenant’s death, a vacant property and anti-social behaviour.
The National Residential Landlords Association says that this is a missed opportunity to help those tenants in financial difficulty due to Covid-19. It does nothing to address housing debt accrued since the beginning of the pandemic.