With the rent debt crisis spiralling, Residential Landlord and Tenant specialist, Mike Hansom, considers the government’s announcement today of yet another extension to the tenant eviction ban.
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Residential landlords may be forgiven for thinking it’s Groundhog Day. Only last month, we reported that the tenant eviction ban had been extended yet again, to 31 March. Today, Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has announced a further extension until 31 May 2021, the fourth such announcement in as many months.
The government have suggested that from 1 June, the ban will taper off. However, they have given no details of how this will operate, saying only “The government will consider the best approach to move away from emergency protections from the beginning of June, taking into account public health advice and the wider roadmap.”
Six months’ notice to evict
Mr Jenrick has also announced an extension to the requirement for landlords to give six months’ notice to tenants before they can evict, “until at least 31 May”. For landlords, the words “at least” will have the ring of inevitability.
The announcement means that until 31 May, private landlords must continue to give tenants six months’ notice before they can repossess properties unless they can demonstrate:
- Anti-social behaviour (four weeks’ notice);
- False statements provided by the tenant (two to four weeks’ notice);
- Over six months of accumulated rent arrears (four weeks’ notice);
- Breach of immigration rules under the “Right to Rent” policy (three months’ notice).
The Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, Ben Beadle, was quick to react, saying:
“[T]he 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.
“If the Chancellor wants to avoid causing a homelessness crisis, he must develop an urgent financial package including interest free, government guaranteed loans to help tenants in arrears to pay off rent debts built since March 2020. This is vital for those who do not qualify for benefit support. Without this, more tenants face losing their homes, and many will carry damaged credit scores, making it more difficult to rent in the future and causing huge pressure on local authorities when they can least manage it.”
Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate, said:
“These extensions will come as a relief to the frightened renters who’ve been flooding our helpline with calls. While the threat level from the virus is still high, it’s right that renters can stay safe in their homes.
“But as we follow the roadmap out of lockdown, the destination for renters remains unknown. The pandemic has repeatedly exposed just how broken private renting is, leaving many people hanging onto their homes by a thread.”