The government has announced plans to wind down the evictions ban, offering light at the end of the tunnel for the thousands of landlords waiting to evict tenants.
In a significant concession for desperate landlords won by the NRLA, housing minister Christopher Pincher (above) has signed off changes to evictions legislation that will see bailiffs restart their work on 1st June.
Many experts had worried that the bailiff evictions ban might be extended once more in expectation of economic problems as the furlough scheme comes to an end later this year.
Bailiffs re-starting will coincide with a reduction in the eviction notice period landlords must give to tenants from the current six months to four months.
But most crucially, the relaxation of restrictions is to include Section 21 notices, a significant concession to landlords given the hard campaigning by many tenant groups such as Shelter to have them banned.
It had been expected that ministers would only allow the evictions process to re-start for mandatory grounds not the ‘no fault’ grounds that Section 21 notice enable.
Returning to normal
Pincher has also signed off on notice periods for Section 8 notice ‘grounds’ evictions returning to normal on October 1st.
This will be between two weeks and two months, depending on the grounds being claimed.
Also, on 31st May the ‘serious arrears’ grounds period will be reduced from six months to four months, enabling landlords to begin proceeding earlier, with a further reduction expected in August. Some exemptions will apply (see below).
Minister Pincher says: “From the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented action to protect renters and help keep them in their homes.
“As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the Roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.
“Crucial financial support also remains in place including the furlough scheme and uplift to Universal Credit.”
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA says: “Having operated under emergency conditions for over a year, today’s announcement from the Government is an important step in ensuring the sector’s recovery.
“It does nothing though to address the rent debt crisis. With the number of private tenants in arrears having increased threefold since lockdown measures started, more are at risk of losing their homes as restrictions ease.
“We want to see tenancies sustained wherever possible and call on the Chancellor to step in and provide affected tenants with the financial support they need to pay off rent arrears built as a result of the pandemic.”
Tim Frome of Landlord Action (left) says: “It is good news for landlords that bailiffs will be restarting from 1st June for landlords who have possession orders. It is likely the bailiffs will be very busy clearing the backlog so we wait to see how the courts cope,” says
“The government setting out a timetable for the resumption of previous possession notice periods by 1st October will hopefully give some certainty and enable us to advise landlords on their options.”
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, says: “When 353,000 private renters are in arrears, and the government still has no plan to clear their debts, loosening the restrictions on evictions is reckless. Renters who have lost income as a result of the pandemic are already struggling to find a home they can afford – if the Government doesn’t intervene, thousands of homeless families could be turning to their council for help.
“We can’t build back better without financial support for the renters who have been hit hardest.
“The Government must introduce a Covid Rent Debt Fund, allowing renters to clear their debts and landlords to claim for up to 80% of income lost.”
From 1 June, notice periods that are currently six months will reduce to at least four months. Notice periods for the most serious cases that present the most strain on landlords will remain lower:
- anti-social behaviour (immediate to 4 weeks’ notice)
- domestic abuse in the social sector (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- false statement (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- over 4 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice)
- breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (2 weeks’ notice)
- death of a tenant (2 months’ notice)