Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that renters will continue to be supported during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions.
The ban on bailiff evictions -which has been in place since the start of the pandemic – has been extended until 31 March. The measures of this will be kept under review and will remain in line with the latest public health advice. More serious cases – such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour, rent arrears over 6 months etc – will continue to remain exempt from this ban. This is due to the extreme strain these situation put on landlords and neighbours.
The measures are part of an array of various ways the government is supporting renters from the economic impact they’re facing in light of this pandemic. Businesses are receiving support too, with the government offering to pay staff through the furlough scheme and strengthening the welfare safety-net by billions of pounds.
Landlords are also required to give 6-month notice periods to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the exempt cases mentioned before. This means that even tenant who have been served a notice now can stay in their homes until at least August 2021, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.
For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.
Housing Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
“We have taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic including introducing a six-month notice period and financial support to help those struggling to pay their rent.”
“By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time.”
“Our measures strike the right balance between protecting tenants and enabling landlords to exercise their right to justice.”
However, the worries are not over for all renters & landlords who find themselves in difficult positions. Lots of tenants have debt looming and many landlords are concerned about their financial commitments they must meet, particularly those whose properties are subject to buy to let mortgages.
Hopefully, this announcement by Government will allow the Chancellor time to bring forward a suggestion of proposed financial support measures for landlords in a price frame that offers a real and workable solution to both tenants and landlords. During these difficult times, this is essential to avoid a spike in homelessness.
There are Landlords who have had to make informal arrangements with tenants who have accumulated arrears since the start of the pandemic. The majority have been hugely sympathetic to their tenants.
Whilst there is Government financial support in place for renters -to a certain extent-, there is still a huge gap between the rent tenants agreed to when commuting to their tenancy, and the amount of rent their current budget allowed. Understandably, many people have found themselves in a situation where their financial situation ha changed through no fault of their own. This comes at a huge cost to both tenants and landlords.
What about Courts?
The court rules and procedures that were brought on in September -to protect both tenants and landlords alike- will remain in place, but with regular reviews. Courts are continuing to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector.
There has also been a new free mediation service – currently running as a pilot- to support landlords and tenants to fairly & unbiasedly resolve disputes before a formal court hearing needs to take place.
This will help tenants at an early stage of the possession process, by reducing the risk of tenants becoming homeless and helping to sustain tenancies where possible.