Evictions ban extended but concerns remain

Evictions ban extended but concerns remain
Credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

The ban on bailiff-enforced evictions has been extended for at least six weeks in England to help protect renters from the effects of the pandemic.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick announced the extra support on Friday (January 8) as the ban was previously due to end in England today (January 11).

The ban on bailiff evictions for all but the most egregious cases has been extended until at least February 21, with measures kept under review.

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According to Mr Jenrick, the extended ban would help protect the “most vulnerable” renters.

The government added that court rules and procedures introduced in September to support tenants and landlords would remain in place and be regularly reviewed.

Courts have been considering possession cases again since September, with the “most serious” cases prioritised for action.

Landlords are still required to give six-month notice periods to tenants until at least March 31 except in the most serious circumstances, under legislation introduced in August.

Alistair Cromwell, acting chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The government has made the right decision to extend this protection. Renters who are struggling with arrears shouldn’t face the prospect of losing the roof over their head when everyone is being asked to stay at home.”

But Mr Cromwell added that hundreds of thousands of people were still in arrears that would “continue to hang over them”, recommending the government implement targeted financial support for tenants in England who have fallen behind on their rent.

Meanwhile Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), described the repossessions ban as a “sticking plaster” that would ultimately lead to more people losing their homes.

“It means tenants’ debts will continue to mount to the point where they have no hope of paying them off leading eventually to them having to leave their home.”

Mr Beadle added: “The objective should be to sustain tenancies in the long term and not just the short term.”

Likewise Oli Sherlock, head of insurance at lettings platform Goodlord, said he was concerned that a further extension to the ban without additional provisions for landlords and tenants was “storing up even more trouble for the future”.

Mr Sherlock commented: “For tenants, accruing arrears cannot be ignored. These debts will eventually catch-up with them and the small proportion who aren’t engaging proactively with their landlords will eventually find themselves facing county court judgements, which can have a long-term impact on their credit ratings.”

A joint statement issued by organisations including the NRLA, Nationwide and debt charity StepChange before the extension urged the government to help renters in paying off arrears built since March last year.

It came after a November survey for Citizens Advice indicated that half a million private renters were behind on their rent, as it called for targeted financial support for people in England who have built up rent arrears.