The government announced in early November that it will be supporting renters during the current pandemic, with no evictions being enforced until after 11 January 2021 (at the earliest) and that there will also be a one month pause in bailiff enforcement plans.
How Long Will the Current Rules Last?
Tenants will also see the six-month notice period that came into force on 20 September, being continued until the end of next March and financial support being made available to those tenants struggling to pay their rents.
These announcements were made by Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, who described them as an ‘unprecedented action to support renters’. Mr Jenrick explained that the government “has protected renters during the pandemic by banning evictions for six months – the longest eviction ban in the UK”.
The six-month notice rule for buy-to-let landlords covers most cases including the Section 21 notice (also known as a ‘no fault eviction’) either for the end of a fixed term tenancy agreement or a tenancy with no fixed end date. The rule also applies to rent arrears of under six months.
The six-month rule be wavered in the most serious cases; for example where tenants are behaving anti- socially, in cases of fraud or perpetrators of domestic abuse or tenants who are more than six months in arrears with their rent.
Evictions cases can still be heard, as the courts are remaining open during the second lockdown period. Practical enforcement of eviction orders will not take place however until mid-January.
Mr Jenrick said that the government is protecting renters from eviction during ‘the new national restrictions and throughout the Christmas period’.
He explained that the government had the difficult task of trying to “strike the right balance between helping tenants in need while ensuring landlords have access to justice in the most serious cases.”
What About Enforced Court Possession Orders?
The government has asked bailiffs not to enforce court possession orders.
Evictions will still proceed through the courts, but bailiffs have instructed the enforcement agents working under their authorisation that enforcement action will be paused between 11 December and 11 January – ‘except in the most serious circumstances’.
Agents acting for landlords in England must give six months’ notice to tenants before they can start eviction proceedings – in the past, it was just three months. The new six-month period is not necessary in the most extreme circumstances. The six-month notice period which was first brought in by the government in September, but will remain in force until 31 March 2021.
Polly Neate, who is chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, described the announcement as – “a step in the right direction to make sure that renters threatened with eviction will have more time to find a new home. Sparing families the misery of being evicted over Christmas is the right thing to do”.
In a recent poll conducted by the charity, it was found that nearly 250,000 private renters had fallen behind in their rent payments since the first pandemic hit the UK and that 174,000 of them had been threatened with eviction by their landlords.
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