Eviction ban extended yet again

The tenant eviction ban has been extended until at least the 21st January, following the latest lockdown.

The ban was due to end today.

Oli Sherlock, head of insurance at lettings experts Goodlord, said: “The government’s motives here are completely understandable and it’s vital we continue to support tenants during this latest phase of restrictions.

“Indeed, landlords and tenants have, on the whole, been working well together throughout the crisis to create payment plans and strategies that keep people in their homes.

“We are concerned, however, that a further extension to the ban without additional provisions for landlords and tenants is storing up even more trouble for the future.”

He added: “For tenants, accruing arrears cannot be ignored. These debts will eventually catch-up with them and the small proportion who aren’t engaging proactively with their landlords will eventually find themselves facing County Court Judgements, which can have a long-term impact on their credit ratings

“For landlords, many are now nearing breaking point. Scores are facing financial difficulties as a result of unpaid rent and ongoing mortgage costs, with a few facing uncommunicative tenants who are refusing to vacate properties even when leases come to an end, although this is a minority of tenants.

“Unless more support is put in place for those struggling, we can expect to see a large number of landlords withdraw their lets from the housing market over the next year.

“This will put pressure on a vital source of housing at a time of critical need. Decision makers must start thinking about how tenants and landlords alike can recover from these challenges during and following the stay on evictions.”

The government legislated to stop courts hearing possession cases during the first national lockdown.

This was extended until 20 September 2020, though cases were allowed to proceed through the courts, but not enforced by bailiffs.

Franz Doerr, chief executive at rental tech platform flatfair, said: “Around half-a-million renters are in arrears yet the government is once again kicking the can down the road as private tenants face being plunged further into debt.

“Unlike Scotland and Wales, England has not introduced a tenant loan scheme which would provide struggling renters with a means to cover their tenancies. It means mountains of debt continue to pile up at the feet of landlords, who the government unfairly expects to continue propping up the rental market.

“Landlords are quickly becoming fed up with the lack of support coming their way, which could ultimately give way to an exodus from the buy-to-let sector. This would be disastrous for renters, too, by depleting the number of more affordable rental properties on the market.

“In lieu of desperately-needed additional government support, landlords and tenants must work together towards a solution. Ultimately, communication is key and renters who are worried that they may soon find themselves in financial distress should let their landlord know as soon as possible.”

Tom Copley, deputy mayor for housing in London, said: “The Mayor and I are pleased the government has responded to our calls, along with many other groups representing tenants and landlords, to prevent renters being evicted from their homes.

“However, this once again came at the 11th hour and fails to put in place proper protections for renters.

“The government needs to stop treating renters as an afterthought. Ministers need to ban eviction notices from being served or progressed while they urgently put in place the package of support that we and others are calling for to help those struggling to keep a roof over their heads during the pandemic.”