Law News

Clarification needed from Government on new eviction rules

Em Morley - July 23, 2020

As a matter of urgency, Generation Rent has called on the Government to explain how the new Civil Procedure Rules will protect renters affected by the coronavirus once the eviction ban ends.

The housing campaign group has written to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC MP with a list of questions. The group says that the Government must answer to provide clarity to renters under threat of eviction. 

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, has said: “The Government snuck out its plans to resume evictions on Friday (17th) evening with no explanation or accompanying guidance on what this means for renters. 

“Clearly, the Government doesn’t understand how scared renters are about losing their homes. As it stands, these rules alone will not help the vast majority of renters who are at risk of losing their home, and judges will not have the powers to prevent Section 21 no-fault evictions or Section 8 evictions for rent arrears built up during the pandemic.

“Over half a million households are behind on rent, and urgently need reassurance that they will not lose their home due to the economic shock of coronavirus, as the Government promised in March. The Government must use the final days of Parliament to legislate to ensure that no home is at risk.”

From 23rd August, evictions will restart with Civil Procedure Rules. Generation Rent says that these new rules are inadequate, as it is unclear how they will work in practice and provide any protection for renters struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19.

Generation Rent highlights:

  • The new rules will require landlords seeking possession of their property to submit a ‘reactivation notice’.
  • In this notice, they must set out any relevant information about a tenant’s circumstances, including whether coronavirus has affected their ability to pay rent or if the tenant is vulnerable.
  • Judges will be able to adjourn proceedings if the information is not provided.
  • However, if the information is provided, judges will have no legal means to prevent Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions, or Section 8 evictions for rent arrears built up due to coronavirus, despite evidence that the tenant has been affected by the pandemic or is vulnerable.
  • Courts will also be able to spread out hearing dates, to ensure that they are appropriately distanced. 

Generation Rent is concerned that these adjustments alone will not protect vulnerable renters from eviction. The questions they have asked the Government can be read here.

Alicia Kennedy comments: “In March, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick pledged that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home.” However, these rules raise more questions than answers. They offer little comfort to renters across the country who are terrified about losing their home because they can’t pay their rent due to COVID-19. 

“The Civil Procedure Rules state that landlords must provide information on a tenant’s circumstances to avoid delays, but as long as information is provided, it appears evictions will go ahead. 

“These rules alone are worthless and will not help the vast majority of renters who are at risk of losing their home, as judges will not have the legal powers necessary to prevent Section 21 no-fault evictions or Section 8 evictions for rent arrears built up during the pandemic. 

“Coronavirus has created a rent debt crisis, which is set to get worse as the furlough scheme is wound down. Renters who have been left out of Government support schemes have now been left in the dark.

“The Government must provide clarity on how renters affected by coronavirus will be protected from eviction and homelessness.”