The government has confirmed that the ongoing evictions ban is not to be extended past August 23rd and that possession hearings are to re-start the day after.
This will be a significant relief to thousands of landlords and letting agents, who had feared that campaigning groups such as Shelter and Generation Rent might persuade Ministers to extend the ban again to avoid a predicted ‘cliff-edge’ of evictions.
Instead Lord Greenhalgh has confirmed that the government has no plans to extend the stay on possession hearings past August 23rd.
Although welcomed by housing campaigners, the ban has placed nearly 6,000 landlords in limbo after pre-Covid possession hearings and court orders were frozen when the ban was announced in late March.
“This is an important step towards ending the lockdown and will protect landlords’ important right to regain their property,” says Greenhalgh.
“Work is underway with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements, including new rules, to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need when possession cases resume.”
Many landlords have been furious that, despite their tenants having been close to being evicted for non-payment of rent, they were instead given ‘carte blanche’ to stay in their properties gratis.
On top of these pre-Covid evictions, it is estimated that thousands more evictions have been started via Section 21 or Section 8 notices during lockdown, but have not been able to proceed because the courts have been closed for possession hearings.
David Cox, ARLA Propertymark
“We’re very pleased to hear that from 24 August courts will be re-opening and can begin to process the backlog of possession cases.
“We have previously expressed our concern to the Secretary of State for Justice that there could be as many as 62,000 ‘business as usual’ landlord possession claims to be processed across England and Wales so having clarity on when these can be handled is extremely encouraging for landlords and the sector.”
Ben Beadle, National Residential Landlords Association
“The Minister’s comments provide greater certainty for the rental market,” he says.
“It is vital however that swift action can be taken against those tenants committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.
“We are calling also for priority to be given to cases where possession orders were granted prior to lockdown or where rent arrears have nothing to do with the COVID pandemic.”