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  • Renters protected with ban on bailiff enforced evictions extended until 31 March
  • Exemptions in place for the most serious cases
  • Part of a wider package of support for renters during the pandemic

Renters will continue to be supported during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced.

The ban on bailiff evictions – which was introduced at the start of the pandemic – has been extended for another 6 weeks – until 31 March – with measures kept under review in line with the latest public health advice.

Exemptions remain in place for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords as well as other residents and neighbours, such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more.

National Landlord Investment Show – MPU

The measures are part of a wide-ranging package of support the government has provided to protect renters from the economic impact of the pandemic, including supporting businesses 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 most serious circumstances, meaning that most renters now served notice 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.”

Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive, safeagent, said:

“With Government’s latest announcement on the deferral of bailiff evictions to 31 March there is still no recognition of the support landlords have given to tenants who have accumulated arrears since the start of the pandemic.”

“We know from safeagents who have worked hard to set up payment plans between landlords and tenants that the majority of landlords have been sympathetic to their tenants plight.”

“We recognise financial support for renters has been put in place to a certain extent by Government, but shortfalls still exist between what the agreed rent at the start of a tenancy was and the amount tenants – whose circumstances have changed drastically through no fault of their own – can afford to pay.”

“This comes at a huge cost to both tenants and landlords.”

“Tenants have debt hanging over them with the anxiety that brings and landlords are struggling with financial commitments they must meet, particularly where properties are subject to buy to let mortgages.”

“We hope that this announcement by Government on eviction deferral is to allow time for the Chancellor to bring forward financial support measures for landlords in the Budget to offer a real and workable solution to both tenants and landlords.”

“This is crucial to allow them to emerge from this difficult time and avoid a spike in homelessness.”

Court rules and procedures introduced in September to support both tenants and landlords will remain in place and regularly reviewed, with courts continuing to prioritise the most cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector.

The government has also launched a new free mediation pilot to support landlords and tenants to resolve disputes before a formal court hearing takes place.

This will help tenants at an early stage of the possession process, mitigating the risk of tenants becoming homeless and helping to sustain tenancies where possible.

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