Renters will continue to be supported as national COVID-19 restrictions ease, with longer notice periods in place until at least October, Housing Minister Christopher Pincher announced.
Thanks to the success of the vaccine programme and the public efforts to suppress the virus, the nation is now progressing cautiously through the Roadmap, and emergency measures for renters introduced during the pandemic will be brought in line with this.
As part of a phased approach, notice periods – previously extended to 6 months as an emergency measure during the pandemic – will be set at four months from 1 June.
This will offer tenants continued protection throughout Step 3 and into Step 4, which will begin from 21 June at the earliest.
Subject to the public health advice and progress with the Roadmap, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October.
The current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, will end on 31 May.
Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.
The measures will ensure renters continue to be protected with longer notice periods for the coming months, while allowing landlords to access justice – 45% of private landlords own just one property and are highly vulnerable to rent arrears.
Extensive financial support remains in place to help people meet their outgoings, including the furlough scheme and the Universal Credit uplift, which have both been extended until the end of September.
Housing Minister, Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said:
“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented action to protect renters and help keep them in their homes.”
“As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the Roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.”
“Crucial financial support also remains in place including the furlough scheme and uplift to Universal Credit.”
Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving fraud or anti-social behaviour, with many of the evictions waiting to be enforced when the ban lifts predating the pandemic.
This week the government announced that a White Paper will be published in the autumn that will set out proposals to create a fairer private rented sector that works for both landlords and tenants.
This includes proposals for the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to give tenants greater security and a new ‘lifetime deposit’ to ease the burden when moving house.
From 1 June, notice periods that are currently 6 months will reduce to at least 4 months. Notice periods for the most serious cases that present the most strain on landlords will remain lower:
- anti-social behaviour (immediate to 4 weeks’ notice)
- domestic abuse in the social sector (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- false statement (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- over 4 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice)
- breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (2 weeks’ notice)
- death of a tenant (2 months’ notice)
Notice periods for cases where there is four or more months’ of unpaid rent, will reduce to 2 months’ notice from 1 August. This is to support both landlords and tenants and responds to the greater difference between COVID and pre COVID notice periods for rent arrears.
Isobel Thomson, safeagent Chief Executive, said:
“safeagent welcomes the certainty that this announcement provides for both tenants and landlords with a reasonable timeframe for each party to plan for the future.”
“Landlords who have maintained tenancies throughout the pandemic at often personal cost and hardship now have a clear route to repossessing their properties should they need to do so.”
“Tenants have the certainty of knowing they will continue to be protected with a longer notice period for the months ahead.”
“What has been clear from our firms throughout the past year is the way agents have successfully facilitated setting up financial arrangements between tenants and landlords where tenants have been unable to meet their rent in full.”
“Our survey results have shown no indication of any increased intention among landlords to evict tenants other than in cases where there are serious grounds.”