Many agents and landlords are furious over the government’s evictions ban U-turn on Friday, which extends the stay on court possession hearings by four weeks and introduces minimum six-month notice periods for those wishing to give notice to tenant.
Agents in particularly are angry that they have spent time and money preparing eviction paperwork ahead of the ban ending, only for the government to change its mind at the last minute.
“We knew that something was about to happen when the government took down the website on Friday preventing landlords being able to prepare the necessary paperwork ready to start evictions next week,” says Kathy Britton of Brittons Lettings in Norfolk.
“For the government to do this without any warning is totally unacceptable for all the landlords who are suffering financial hardships throughout this pandemic.
“Just a few tenants do abuse the system by using this as an excuse thinking that this is a green light not to pay their rent.”
Landlords and letting agents had hoped that, even if the government did execute a U-turn, possession hearings involving evictions prompted by rent arrears built up prior to the Covid pandemic would be allowed after August 23rd.
Paul Shamplina (left) of Landlord Action says: “We have been working with landlords whose tenants have racked up thousands of pounds worth of arrears.
“Many of these landlords have been having to cover two mortgages for more than nine months now and we have just finished issuing the re-activation notices on behalf of these landlords as directed by the Government!
“Why have they left it until the Friday before the courts re-open to give a further extension? I do not believe enough consideration has been given to people in these set of circumstances and perhaps rather than a blanket ban, existing cases should have been allowed to restart as planned.
“In my view, the Government needs to seriously consider offering landlords, whose tenants have fallen into arrears relating to Covid-19 and can prove loss of employment, some financial support, for example three months of rent contribution.”
The U-turn decision also leaves several questions unanswered and reflects the government’s last-minute, behind-the-scenes cobbling-together effort prior to the announcement at 3pm on Friday.
These holes include:
Notice periods: Can landlords and lettings agents give notice after five months or have to wait until after the sixth month before issuing an eviction notice?
Redundant regs: What happens to the pre-action rules including the ‘reactivation notices’ that the government had originally said would be introduced today but that are now redundant following Friday’s U-turn?
Existing notices: What happens to eviction notices that have been served already? There are thought to be up to 40,000 cases currently stuck in the court system after possession hearings were frozen or ‘stayed’ back in March.