The government announced a further extension to the ban on evictions and the requirement for landlords to provide six-month notice periods. What does this mean for landlords and tenants?
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced another extension to the ban on evictions on 10 March. Additionally, the requirement for landlords to give six-month eviction notice periods to tenants has also been extended until at least the end of May. This means most tenants being served notice now will be able to stay in their rental until at least December.
The Housing Secretary said: “It is right that as we move through the road map, we ensure that businesses and renters continue to be supported.”
In England, the initial ban on bailiff-enforced evictions was introduced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Extensions previously pushed the end date to 31 March 2021. With the new extension, the ban on evictions will be in place until the end of May.
There are exemptions in place for eviction court hearings. This includes extreme rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation, false statement and where the tenant has passed away. The most serious cases are being prioritised.
When will the measures taper off?
From the beginning of June, the government will consider the best way to move away from emergency protections. This will take into account public health advice and the roadmap. This also means that restrictions on repossessions could start to taper off from 1 June.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), states: “We welcome clarification that emergency measures in the rental market will be phased out in tandem with the overall roadmap out of lockdown restrictions.”
“That said, the further extension to the repossessions ban will do nothing to help those landlords and tenants financially hit due to the pandemic. Given the cross-sector consensus for the need to address the rent debt crisis, it suggests the Government are unwilling to listen to the voices of those most affected.”
Rent arrears due to COVID-19
The eviction ban has provided thousands of tenants some much-needed stability throughout the pandemic. Some in the industry feels tenants and landlords haven’t been provided enough support. There have been calls for the government to provide a financial package to help tenants pay off rent arrears due to the pandemic.
Even though the majority of tenants have been able to keep up with rent payments, some are struggling. A previous poll by the NRLA showed that an overwhelming majority of tenants and landlords have been working together. However, if a tenant is unable to pay rent, landlords could end up in financial difficulty as well.
Long-term support needed
Because of this, many in the property industry feel additional support needs addressing in order to better help both parties. The governments in Scotland and Wales are offering loans to struggling tenants. Many are asking England to follow suit.
Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager of Propertymark, comments: “As the impact of COVID-19 continues to bite with household debt and unemployment rates rising, we remain concerned about how tenants will avoid future rent arrears and landlords will remain incentivised to stay in the market.
“Rather than short term measures that are not helping those renters that need it most, the UK Government must focus on providing long-term support to help renters clear the debt and arrears they have built up during the pandemic.”