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Government announces new tenant evictions ban until March 2021

2-minute read

Mollie Millman

15 January 2021

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The government has extended the tenant evictions ban once again, until at least March.

It announced the extension on 11 January, after introducing the new lockdown.

The tenant evictions ban was introduced at the start of the coronavirus outbreak. The government briefly lifted the ban in September, before reintroducing it at the end of last year – it will now last until the spring.

The ban is designed to protect tenants who have been hit by a loss of income as a result of coronavirus. At the same time, mortgage payment holidays have been introduced for landlords.

Mark Hayward, of Propertymark – the body for lettings agents – said: “In light of the recent lockdown, it is no surprise the Government has made this announcement.”

Extensions lead to a backlog of court cases

The numerous eviction ban extensions have meant that courts face a growing backlog of cases.

Mr Hayward called on the government to do more to ensure landlords and tenants can access the justice system.

He said: “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 through no fault of their own.”

The eviction ban means landlords can’t start court proceedings or physically remove a tenant from a property.

However, landlords can still serve a Section 21 notice, which allows them to evict a tenant for whatever reason they like, or a Section 8 notice, which allows them to evict a tenant inside the fixed term of a tenancy – but only if the tenant has breached their tenancy agreement.

Six month notice periods are also still in place until at least the end of March.

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Will there be tenant loan support schemes?

There are calls for additional government support for tenants and landlords in England and Northern Ireland.

This is despite many landlords and tenants working together to navigate the issues caused by coronavirus.

Oli Sherlock, of lettings experts Goodlord, said: “The Government’s motives are completely understandable, and it’s vital we continue to support tenants during the 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.”

But he expressed concerns that a further extension to the ban without additional provisions for landlords and tenants is storing up trouble for the future.

He said: “We must ensure that systems, potentially similar to those in Scotland and Wales, are in place so tenants stay on top of their rental payments and keep arrears low, or are supported to move to cheaper properties if needed.”

The loan systems in place are the Tenancy Saver Loan scheme in Wales and the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund in Scotland. To date, no similar schemes have been introduced in England or Northern Ireland.

These schemes give tenants access to loans, helping them pay rent if their income has been affected by coronavirus.

What do you think about the extension to the ban on tenant evictions? Let us know in the comments below.

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