Government has confirmed that the ban on bailiff enforcement
will be lifted when the current regulations expire on 31 May
A ban on evictions was introduced in March 2020 at the beginning
of the first COVID-19 lockdown and has been extended several times
since. The restrictions prevent landlords from repossessing
properties when they have valid grounds, delaying rather that
preventing homelessness, and results in a further build-up of rent
arrears if there are affordability concerns, which helps neither
landlord nor tenant.
Given the requirement to provide 14 days' notice, no evictions
are expected until mid-June, except in the most serious cases and
Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if they have
been made aware that anyone living the property has COVID-19
symptoms or is self-isolating.
Tenants will continue to benefit from longer notice periods
until 30 September. However, starting from 1 June, notice periods
will gradually reduce so that protections do not fall away
suddenly. The Government's intention is that notice periods will
return to normal lengths from 1 October, unless the public health
situation warrants a further extension.
Notice periods which are currently six months, including Section
21 (of the Housing Act 1988) and termination of local authority
flexible tenancies under s.107D of the Housing Act 1985, will
reduce to at least 4 months from 1 June. Notice periods for the
most serious cases such as anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse
and false statement, already have lower notice periods.
For local authority introductory and demoted tenancies, the
lower notice periods will be extended to include where the
landlord's reason for possession includes false statement and
serious rent arrears.
There will be a further taper for cases where there are four
months' or more of unpaid rent on 1 August, when the notice period
will reduce to 2 months. This takes into consideration the greater
difference between COVID and pre-COVID notice periods for rent
arrears grounds. Currently, the threshold for what is considered
'serious arrears' is set at 6 months' of rent arrears. As an
interim step, this will also be reduced to where there is 4 months
of arrears from 1 June.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue to
provide financial support until 30 September 2021 and the
government is extending the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit
until the end of September 2021 and have made £140 million in
Discretionary Housing Payments funding available for local
authorities. Local Housing Allowance rates are being maintained at
their increased level in cash terms.
Further details of the Government announcement can be found on
the Government website.
ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby comments:
"The ban on evictions could only ever be a temporary
measureand continuing to extend the ban without addressing the
underlying accrued arrears/debt problems is rather like building a
dam wall ever higher to hold back the stream of arrears cases, but
when that dam wall is removed councils are likely to see a rise in
homeless applications over the next 12-24 months as cases find
their way to court.
Councils remain very concerned over the potential rise in
homelessness households may face, and the pressure this will add to
already over-stretched homelessness services.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
say that information from the Household Resilience Survey shows
that the vast majority of tenants are up to date with their rent
and, of those who are in arrears, most have arrears of less than
two months' rent and argue that therefore the majority of tenants
will continue to be protected while measures gradually reduce back
However, in February, the Resolution Foundation said that some
450,000 families were thought to have fallen behind on
rent as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
At the last count there were already over 95,000 homeless households living in temporary
accommodation and the concern among many authorities is
that as the eviction ban is lifted and landlords in the private
rented sector begin to take action to recover rent arrears the
number of people threatened with homelessness will only