The war of words between tenants and landlords is beginning to hot up ahead of the evictions ban lifting on Monday.
Organisations including Shelter, Acorn, the London Renters Union and Generation Rent have been piling pressure on the government to extend the ban for at least another six months, as Scotland recently announced it intends to do, claiming that a disaster of biblical proportion will ensue unless renters are protected from eviction.
But the National Association of Residential Landlords (NRLA) has launched its latest response, arguing that unnecessary scaremongering must stop, and that policy makers ‘and others’ should focus on the facts.
Risk of eviction
“It is wrong to assume that every tenant that has built rent arrears because of COVID-19 will automatically be at risk of eviction,” its latest statement says.
While the campaigning groups, and also many of the opposition political parties argue that tenants have little protection from being evicted after 23rd August, the NRLA says the pre-hearing conditions that letting agents and landlords will have to meet prior to a hearing being granted are more than sufficient.
These will apply to existing ‘stayed’ evictions as well as new requests for possession hearings, and will include having to provide a ‘re-activation notice’ informing the court and tenant in writing.
They will also have to set out what knowledge they have about the tenant’s circumstances including the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on them and their dependants.
If this information is not forthcoming or is deemed inadequate by the courts, the judges will have powers to adjourn the case.
Three months’ notice
Also, until 30th September, landlords renting property in England have to give tenants a minimum of three months’ notice of their intention to seek possession, giving more time for payment arrangements to be agreed.
In Wales it is six months for all cases except those related to anti-social behaviour.
“Extending the ban on repossessions is not necessary,” says Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association.
“Our research clearly shows that the vast majority of landlords and tenants are working together constructively to sustain tenancies wherever possible.
“We need the courts to deal with cases where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or where there are long-standing rent arrears that have nothing to do with the pandemic.”