Eviction Ban in England Extended due to COVID-19

On 5th November 2020, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that renters would be protected during the national restrictions over the festive period, set to end on 11 January 2021, however, on 8th January 2020, the government extended the ban on enforcing evictions during the pandemic until at least 21 February, with no evictions expected until the 8th March at the earliest.

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The first ban on evictions during the coronavirus crisis started in March 2020 and prevented landlords from starting possession proceedings in order to protect renters who had lost income due to the restrictions from being forced out of their homes. Landlords were protected by the 3 month mortgage payment holiday which alleviated the pressure to meet mortgage payments themselves. Since then, the ban has been extended a number of times and has one again been extended until mid February, with mortgage payment breaks available to landlords until 31st March, though this end date will be reviewed again towards the end of the ban.

This is because the UK has experienced an incredibly trying winter that was made worse by the new, more severe strain of COVID-19 that emerged just before Christmas. Due to the rising cases, the UK was put into a third lockdown, meaning many businesses have either had to close or furlough most of their staff as a result of the restrictions. These closures and reduced pay have left a great number of people unemployed or with less pay than they usually get, making it more difficult to afford large costs such as rent on their homes.

Although courts are able to process cases and eviction notices can be issued, bailiffs aren’t allowed to enact them until 22nd February at the very earliest, with the exception of extreme cases such as anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and domestic abuse.

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What this means for tenants

Tenants are still required to pay their rent as per the terms of their tenancy agreement, however, landlords are being encouraged by the government to offer support and flexibility to renters who may be struggling.

If you are a tenant and are currently not earning, you may be eligible for financial support including Housing Allowance and Universal Credit, which have both been increased more recently to cover housing costs. The government also claims to have made £180million available to councils to help provide discretionary housing payments to tenants struggling to afford their rent. Check with your council to see if you qualify.

Your rights to living in a safe property do not change despite the coronavirus outbreak. It is still the responsibility of your landlord to conduct essential maintenance where required and to deal with urgent issues such as faulty electrics and broken boilers.

If your tenancy agreement is coming to an end and you’re worried about moving during the pandemic, you should ask your landlord for the options available as some may be willing to consider a month-by-month agreement due to the current situation.

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What this means for landlords

Landlord responsibilities are unchanged by the coronavirus pandemic and it is still their duty to conduct any essential repairs and safety inspections such as fixing or servicing a boiler. If for some reason the landlord cannot have the work carried out due to circumstances such as the tenant self-isolating, they should make records of their attempts to rectify the issues in case the council requires evidence of your efforts.

Any landlords with tenants who are struggling to pay rent are able to apply for a payment break on their mortgages with total deferrals of up to six months. This should be done by 31st March.

If you are a landlord looking to let out your property, you can now conduct viewings so long as any current tenants are not self-isolating and the viewings comply with the government guidelines, including social distancing and wearing face coverings.

For more help, visit our Tips & Advice page, or answer a few questions here to see how we can help you to afford to pay back any debts. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us by calling 012625 801007.

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