The government has extended the ban on evictions by two months until 23rd August.
Where tenants experience financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, the government said landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant’s individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort.
Robert Jenrick MP, housing secretary, said: “We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic. Today, I am announcing that the government’s ban on evictions will be extended for another 2 months. That takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of 5 months.
“Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.
“We are also working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions proceedings do recommence, arrangements, including rules, are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding.”
The ban will run for five months in total, following the announcement.
Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley and creator of automated lettings platform, PlanetRent, said: “There’s no doubt that thousands of renters that are suffering financial difficulty will be happy to hear the news from the government this afternoon and will now feel more secure in their homes.
“With all of the uncertainty going on at the moment, tenants deserve to be protected by the government from evictions that could be through no fault of their own, and could well be down to financial hardship brought on by being furloughed or losing their job altogether, but this needs to be balanced by proving that their income has gone down. The worry is that many landlords are retired, according to the English Private Landlord Survey, as many as 33% are. These landlords may well not have a mortgage to claim a repayment holiday on, rely on property income and without rent or furlough monies may struggle to survive.
“However, it should be noted as recent research by the National Residential Landlords Association pointed out that the majority of landlords are trying to work with their tenants to resolve any issues such as rent arrears.
“Looking at the long term, the government may need to consider other ways of financially supporting households post-crisis. For example, through higher housing benefit payments as clearly the high cost of the furlough scheme means it cannot last indefinitely.
“Tenants and landlords should be working together in what is a difficult time for everybody, and should not use the eviction ban as an excuse to mistreat the property they live in or withhold rent if they are not in a genuinely financially difficult situation.
“Some renters may need more financial assistance from the government but cancelling rents as some have suggested or getting the government to pay would be hugely damaging.”
This post has originally been featured in Property Wire.