The government has announced that evictions ban is to be extended for another two months to the end of August.

The government has announced that the evictions ban introduced in March is to be extended for another two months to the end of August.

Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick has just tweeted the news, saying that: “We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic. Today, I am announcing that the government’s ban on evictions will be extended for another 2 months. That takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of 5 months.

“Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.

“We are also working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions proceedings do recommence, arrangements, including rules, are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding.”

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC MP, said:

“Protecting vulnerable people has been our priority throughout this pandemic. Extending this ban will give people invaluable security in these turbulent times and work continues at pace to ensure vulnerable renters remain protected long after the ban ends.”

As we reported on May 4th, Jenrick told a parliamentary select committee held on Zoom that he wanted to extend the eviction ban past June 25th, when it was due to expire.

Today’s announcement is a compromise between the two opposing camps; landlords, who want to begin possession hearings against the worst cases of deliberate rent non payment of rent, and tenant organisations who wanted to see the ban extended for

And as we also reported yesterday, the NRLA has been working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on crafting a pre-action protocol, which will require landlords to work with tenants much more closely before being granted a possession hearing.

Twitter announcement

“Expect the unexpected with this government, this is a very important policy announcement that has been made on twitter without any further details provided,” says Tim Frome of Landlord Action.

“It would appear that the practice direction that was put in place to allow the suspension of private and social possession claims has been extended to 31st August 2020. This is despite many courts beginning consultations with their stakeholders on starting again at end of June.

“With this further delay it is more important than ever that landlords discuss matter with their tenants and see if they can come to sensible arrangements on any issues tenants are facing from the virus. Landlords who had cases in court from before mid-March will be the ones most aggrieved by this decision. The rent arrears will continue and/or any anti social behavior is likely to be continuing.

“When the courts re-open at the end of August the backlogs will be horrendous. From a practical point of view trying to do hearings in July and August remotely was always going to be a challenge. Hopefully the courts will all be open from September and dedicated judges and time can be set up to deal with all the claims in the system.”

Shelter

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, says: “The government has reset the clock on the evictions ban, buying the families who were only weeks away from losing their homes, a vital stay of execution. But it’s only a stop-gap.  

“The ban hasn’t stopped people who’ve lost their jobs during this pandemic from racking up rent arrears. Even if they have a plan to pay them back, these debts will throw struggling renters straight back into the firing line of an automatic eviction as soon as the ban does lift.   

“It’s critical that Robert Jenrick uses this extension wisely to change the law and properly protect renters. Judges must be given the power to stop people losing their homes because of coronavirus, otherwise the country will face a tidal wave of homelessness after August. Sooner or later, the government has to stop kicking the can down the road.”  

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