Housing minister Christopher Pincher has confirmed that the government won’t amend the definition of ‘substantial arrears’ back to nine months.

Landlords in England had been allowed to enforce possession orders with the county court bailiffs against tenants with more than nine months’ rent arrears, as long as these had been accumulated before the first lockdown on 23rd March.

However, the government made amendments to its Covid laws earlier this month, changing the definition of ‘substantial arrears’ so that rent accrued since the start of the pandemic would no longer be excluded – a move that the the NRLA heralded as as a reasonable balance as many landlords struggle with non-paying tenants.

The changes meant that tenants who were up to date with rent payments, but lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and have been unable to pay rent, could now be evicted – a move which housing charities and Labour MPs including Jeremy Corbyn have labelled, “cruel and disgraceful”.

evictions caroline lucas

In response to Green MP (pictured) Caroline Lucas’s written question asking Pincher to restore the definition to nine months, he said there were no plans to do this but that the measures were being kept under review.

He added: “The government believes that it is proportionate to widen the rent arrears exemption to the ban on the enforcement of residential evictions to cases where a court is satisfied that a possession order was granted on the grounds of rent arrears and where more than six months of rent is outstanding.

“This change is intended to balance the effect of the ongoing restrictions on landlords with the need to continue to protect tenants.”

Read the latest government guidance to landlords.


  1. So, Labour MPs and Jeremy Corbyn have labelled this disgraceful. They would no doubt be more than happy for the Tenant’s housing to be completely funded by the Landlord. They never mention the struggling Landlord whose only income/pension is from a rented property and are reliant on the rent. They have a very warped, one-sided ‘Tenant is always right’ view, and seem to be very anti Landlord, who are not all well off and can’t afford to have a property with no rent coming in for that length of time.

    • The likes of Corbyn et al don’t believe private LL should exist.
      They have a Marxist perspective that all housing should be State controlled.
      Consequently they are not the slightest bit interested if LL suffer from rent defaulting tenants.

      They know that LL a bit like homeowners will do everything they can to hang onto their properties.

      I’ve heard of LL having tenants with over a year of rent arrears.

      I don’t now how they are managing to retain any mortgaged property.

      They must have very cheap mortgages or very deep pockets.

      It would only take 2 months of rent arrears and I’d be bankrupted!

      I simply don’t have the resources to subsidise the lifestyle of a feckless tenant.

      I’m sure there will be mass BTL repossessions when all the restrictions are ended.

      Speaking to my lender; the hated MX it seems most of their time is being spent dealing with mortgage holidays.

      This just indicates the amount of financial stress there is amongst leveraged LL.

      I believe there will be many LL selling up as soon as they can to avoid repossession.

  2. The Labour Party left say they believe in equality and fairness, and they abhor hate, but the reality is that they hate anyone they think has a few quid, and they detest landlords even more than they hate Israel, the Royal Family and the House of Lords combined! What really bothers me is that the Conservatives aren’t much better. Any fair minded person can see that these rules are appallingly onerous on landlords.


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