Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has faced questions from the housing select committee on how the government will continue to support tenants if the three-month ban on evictions is lifted on 25th June.
His response was that a decision will be made next month on whether there will be an extension to the ban. It was originally introduced to prevent people from losing their homes during the COVID-19 crisis.
Jenrick told MPs at a Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee meeting: “This [pre-action protocol] will apply at the end of the moratorium on evictions, whether that’s in late June or later in the year.
“It will enable tenants to have an added degree of protection, because instead of embarking upon the eviction proceedings immediately, there will be a duty upon their landlords to reach out to them, discuss their situation, and try to find an affordable repayment plan.
“This will enable tenants to remain in their homes and to recover the rent they haven’t been able to pay because of their circumstances.”
Paul Shamplina, the founder of Landlord Action, has commented: “Most court cases are currently suspended until 25th June. However, although a formal announcement on an extension to the ban on evictions is not due until June, which will be dependent on the passage of the virus and lockdown measures in place at that time, we have already received court orders which state they are suspended until the end of October, so I suspect that is a sign of things to come.
“This is obviously very worrying for landlords, particularly those with existing possession cases issued prior to Covid-19, as those landlords will be faced with many more months of rents arrears on top of those they already had.
“The Government has been urging landlords and tenants to come to agreements and they are working to ensure pre-action protocol is in place, which will put the onus on tenants and landlords to negotiate and reach an agreement, rather than go to court.
“This means that there will be an emphasis on mediation, such as that recently launched by the Property Redress Scheme, or landlords working in good faith with tenants to agree a payment agreement.”