The Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has announced an extension of the ban on bailiff enforcement of evictions for all but the most serious cases until at least 31 March 2021.
Exemptions will remain in place for the most serious circumstances, including illegal occupation, false statement, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, 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 September in 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.
The new mediation pilot is now operational to further support landlords and renters who face court procedures and potential eviction. Mediation is being offered as part of the possession process at the review hearing stage to try and help landlords and tenants to reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes.
In addition, all landlords continue to be required to give six month notice periods to tenants until at least 31 March except in the most serious circumstances. The Government will review whether any further extensions to the current emergency measures are needed considering public health advice and will provide more detail when possible.
Updated guidance incorporating this change is below:
COVID-19 and Renting guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities
Guidance on navigating the possession process for landlords and tenants: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-the-possession-action-process-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants
Responding, 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.”