The Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has announced extra support to protect rough sleepers and renters from the effects of COVID-19.
- Renters will continue to be supported during the new national restrictions with an extension of the ban on bailiff enforcement of evictions for all but the most serious cases forat least six weeks –up to the end of 21 February 2021 – with measures kept under review.
- There are exemptions for the most serious cases which areillegal occupation, false statement, anti-social behaviour, perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector, where a property is unoccupied following death of a tenant and serious rent arrears greater than 6 months’ rent.
- Court rules and procedures introduced in Septemberin response to the pandemic remain in place and courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases such as anti-social behaviour, illegal occupiers and those committing domestic abuse offences in the social sector.
- All landlords will continue to be required to give six month notice periods to tenants until at least 31 March except in the most serious circumstances and wewill review whether an extension to this measure is needed and provide more detail on this in due course.
- As well as this, a new mediation pilot will further support landlords and renters who face court procedures and potential eviction from next month (February). It will offer mediation as part of the possession process to try and help landlords and tenants to reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes.
Commenting on the announcement, Isobel Thomson, safeagent Chief Executive, said:
“As we continue to battle the pandemic, it is right that government look for ways to support those who need it most. The announcement of the mediation pilot is a welcome move, formalising what many of our agents have been successfully doing since the start of the outbreak, supporting landlords and their tenants experiencing financial hardship. By working with both parties and helping agree payment plans, agents have played a crucial role in ensuring tenancies are maintained.
“While there is help for tenants, it is no less important that we also consider landlords who themselves may be suffering. If they go under who will house their tenants? We want to see support for every part of the sector – landlords and tenants – to ensure that the important role the PRS plays in providing a home to 20% of households in England is able to continue.”
COVID-19 and Renting guidance has been updated to reflect the return to a national lockdown and extension of the ban on bailiff enforcement. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities
The guidance on navigating the possession process for landlords and tenants in the social and private rented sectors is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-the-possession-action-process-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants