Following the outbreak of coronavirus, the government introduced a ban on evictions of tenants and repossessions of properties. The ban was first introduced in March. The purpose of the ban is to protect renters from losing homes and to prevent drastic increase in homelessness. We are now in September. As research shows, many landlords are working with their tenants to find suitable solutions and enter into agreements – all in a bid to help keep tenancies. On the other hand, there are tenants and landlords who struggle to reach satisfactory agreements.
The First Extension
In June, the government announced the first extension to the ban. It was decided to take the suspension of evictions to a total of 5 months; until 23rd August. After the announcement, many landlords felt it was unfair and harmful. Many complained about rent arrears, also from before coronavirus outbreak. Some landlords have had issues with tenants involved in domestic violence and anti-social behaviour.
The Second Extension
In mid-August Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said:
“I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of COVID-19. That is why today I am announcing a further four week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for six months.”
The government decided to extend the evictions ban for further 4 weeks until 20th September. Additionally, a new 6 months’ notice period will be in place until at least 31st March 2021. This is to protect tenants from becoming homeless in the winter months. However, renters who have committed anti-social behaviour will only be given up to a months’ notice. Also, renters who have been involved in domestic violence will be given 2 weeks’ notice. As for tenants with 6 months or more of rent arrears, the notice period is 4 weeks.
Mr Jenrick assured that once eviction hearings restart, the judiciary will carefully prioritise the most serious cases including those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.
The government decided to keep the above measures under review. Further decisions will be guided by the public health advice.
Many landlords are extremely disappointed. They feel abandoned, powerless, and frustrated.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association said:
“It is disappointing that the Government has so far failed to heed the warnings of the NRLA and others that a financial package is needed to pay-off rent arrears built due to COVID. In the end this is the best way to sustain tenancies. We will continue to campaign hard for this important measure.”
You can read full Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 here.