The Government has announced that the eviction ban will be extended again until 20th September. Having already been extended once, it was due to end on 23rd August.
Generation Rent says that a homelessness crisis may have been averted, but renters need a long-term plan. Alicia Kennedy, Director at Generation Rent, comments: “The extension of the eviction ban will come as an enormous relief to the thousands of renters who were terrified of losing their homes as early as next week.
“We’re glad the Government has listened to charities, MPs, local Government and public health bodies, but it’s not a permanent solution.
“The evictions crisis should have been addressed earlier – the decision was announced just days before courts were due to open again, putting thousands of renters through untold mental stress. And while the courts remain closed, rent debt is still building up and notices are still being served.
“The Government must use this time to introduce a long-term plan to protect renters’ homes. Emergency legislation to restrict the use of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, as well as eviction for rent arrears, should be passed as soon as parliament returns in September.
“As so many evictions in the private sector take place using Section 21, this crisis has underlined the urgency of scrapping it for good, as the Government promised last year.
“Once evictions are addressed, Government needs to end the rent debt crisis through raising benefits to cover average rents and providing grants to those who have built up arrears they cannot pay. These steps would ensure that no renter loses their home as a result of COVID-19.”
Laura Hallett Lea, a senior property litigation lawyer at Forbes Solicitors, has commented on the financial strain this extension may put on landlords: “Extending a ban on evictions places more pressure on landlords, who are already contending with months of rent arrears.
“Many landlords will have already made concessions to help tenants financially impacted by COVID-19 and will now be running out of breathing space themselves. If they get to a point where they default on their own financial arrangements, they may find themselves powerless to stop tenants being evicted.
“Prior to the UK outbreak of COVID-19, there were already sufficient laws in place offering tenants protection against overnight evictions. In most cases, evictions usually occur when there’s extensive rents arrears of six months or more.
“Most tenants currently at risk of eviction are likely to be those who were behind on rent well before lockdown. It’s crucial to protect tenants, but equally important to help landlords. If they face financial hardship, it will only cause further housing issues.”
Ben Beadle, CEO of the National Residential Landlords Association has said: “A blanket extension is unacceptable, especially so close to the deadline.
“An enormous amount of work as gone into finding a balance between supporting tenants who have been affected by the pandemic and preventing significant financial harm to landlords, in accordance with the Government’s promise. This announcement satisfies no-one.
“Landlords have been left powerless in exercising their legal right to deal with significant arrears unrelated to Covid-19, antisocial behaviour and extremely disruptive tenants who make life miserable for their neighbours and housemates.
“Private landlords cannot be expected to foot the bill for government failure. There must now be a plan to support households to pay their bills and to compensate landlords fully for their lost income.
“Only this will give both tenants and landlords security and reduce the risk of widespread tenancy failure.”