The ban on tenant evictions has been extended to the autumn, the government has announced.
The four-week extension now means the ban won't be lifted until 20 September.
The extension means landlords face a longer wait than anticipated before they can start court proceedings against tenants for issues such as failing to pay their rent.
The latest extension means the ban will have been in place for a total of six months.
It follows a five-month ban on tenant evictions, which was due to be lifted on 23 August.
That five-month ban consisted of an initial three-month ban and a previous two-month extension that was announced in June.
The government initially introduced the emergency legislation banning tenant evictions on 26 March, at the beginning of the lockdown.
Its aim was to ensure no tenant was forcibly evicted during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Landlords are still able to serve notice of eviction, even though tenants can’t legally be evicted. However, these eviction notices now come with a new six-month notice period.
Making the announcement, housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “Six-month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.”
A backlog of cases means it will take longer than ever for proceedings to reach court – and ultimately for landlords to gain possession of their properties.
It means landlords could face months without any rent. Many will rely on their own source of income.
Timothy Douglas, of ARLA Propertymark (the trade body for letting agents) said: “Now that the ban on evictions has been extended, the Government must use this time to introduce further guidance and prepare the sector.
“It is important to take steps back towards normality so that both landlords and tenants have access to the justice system, while putting measures in place to offer further support to tenants who have built up Covid-related arrears, and this four week extension will give Government the time to introduce such measures.
“Additionally, given the backlog of cases already facing courts, it’s key that the Government introduces sufficient guidance during this period to enable eviction proceedings to begin again smoothly and fairly when the ban is lifted.”
The National Resident Landlords Association is urging the government to develop a financial package to support tenants to pay off rent arrears built up as a result of coronavirus. Such a package has already been created in Wales.
Meanwhile, landlords and tenants are being urged to continue to work together during the global pandemic.
David Smith, partner at JMW Solicitors, said: “In my experience landlords will always try to work with tenants to avoid evictions as it is costly, there is no evidence that this will be any different now.”
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