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New call to government to prevent some evictions after ban ends

A debt charity is urging the Housing Secretary to pledge that no one who has lost income because of Coronavirus will be evicted from their home even after the ban is lifted late next month. 

StepChange wants the government to commit to greater protections for what it claims are an estimated 590,000 people who have fallen into rent arrears and are facing housing insecurity during the pandemic. 

In addition, it wants Robert Jenrick to accelerate plans to scrap Section 21 evictions and amend court powers to give them the discretion to suspend a possession order in cases where arrears have built up.


“The government has shown through the announcement of its Breathing Space scheme, that it recognises the importance of allowing those in financial difficulty the space to recover” admits StepChange chief executive Phil Andrew.

“People who have fallen into rent arrears during the pandemic need the same respite” he adds, saying: “The government can grant them this space by making the legal changes needed to safeguard against unjust evictions and should also consider how it can help tenants pay off arrears where coronavirus has left them with no chance to repay. 

“The knock-on consequences of debt and eviction can be severe for individuals and threaten to undermine the economic recovery for everyone. The government must act to prevent this.”

The letter sent to Jenrick has been co-signed by the new director of campaigning pressure group Generation Rent - the former Labour baroness, Alicia Kennedy - who says: “Renters urgently need reassurance that they will not lose their home due to the economic shock of Coronavirus, as the government promised in March. The government must use the final days of parliament to ensure that no home is at risk.”

You can see the joint letter below.

As two charities covering housing and debt, we welcome the government’s efforts to protect vulnerable tenants through changes to the Civil Procedure Rules on evictions. These acknowledge the hardship caused by the coronavirus emergency and the need for landlords to consider this when dealing with tenants.

However, with just a few short weeks remaining until the ban on evictions is lifted, we’re concerned that steps are not being taken to ensure these changes will have the necessary legal backing to fulfil your department’s aim that no-one who has lost income because of coronavirus should be evicted from their home.

StepChange estimate that since lockdown measures were introduced more than 590,000 people have fallen into rent arrears and are facing housing insecurity, over 200,000 in the private rented sector. A further 3.8 million people borrowing to make ends meet, most often using a credit card, an overdraft or high cost credit.

The government was quick to act in support of homeowners, which we welcomed, but renters have not been given the same consideration. Generation Rent found that 58% of renters were afraid of eviction despite the government’s ban. This reflects concern about the ability of landlords to evict tenants using powers in the Housing Act 1988 without appreciation for household circumstances. This cannot be right in the context of a global pandemic in which many are facing acute financial hardship.

Last week, the government announced that its Breathing Space scheme will go live in May next year. We welcome this recognition that people need time to recover when facing a crisis. The same principle should be applied to renters who have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. To give them space to recover, plans to end S21 evictions must be accelerated. Alongside this, temporary changes need to be made to Ground 8 to give courts discretion when granting a possession order in cases where arrears have built up because of the pandemic.

The government has acted admirably during the pandemic to protect jobs and livelihoods. It has also proven its ability to act quickly, passing emergency legislation in days. We are living through one of most challenging times in living history, yet for renters, the countdown clock to homelessness and prolonged housing insecurity is ticking. We urge you to act to ensure these protections are in place before 23 August. 

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    As S.21 already looks set to go, S.8 under arrears grounds is the only mandatory granting of possession left. That’s okay as I only get rid of tenants causing a problem anyway and invariably that problem is arrears (even if coupled with ASB/damage). But now StepChange want even that to be at the Judge’s discretion, which opens the whole process up to public pressure and potentially politicisation. Housing the people is the Govt’s task/problem -not landlords- and this would allow a quiet word in Judges’ ears to keep tenants in (often substantial) arrears in private property indefinitely in order to take pressure off local authorities and other social housing providers, both of whom are woefully inadequate at the best of times, so removing this pain will make them all but useless. However, what will then happen is LLs will choose to get out altogether and sell using the new ability to evict in order to market the property (like in Scotland) and the entire rental market will suffer terribly in the medium & longer term. When will Govt. realise it is not possible to legislate out of their obligations, such as to house people? People aren’t suddenly going to disappear and the Govt. will always be the Govt. - everyone else is at liberty to pack up and quit…unlike them. DEAL WITH THE REAL PROBLEM YOU CONTINUOUS DISASTER!

  • girish mehta

    As A Landlord I will be keeping my properties empty when the tenancy ends. Not interested in letting when I may risk damage to property and non rent paying Tenants and the new court system. Not worth the risk. I will only invest if the outlook increase.
    I will invest overseas. So I have lost income but I won’t be spending on my letting feed. Tradesman, pay less tax. And let government and council house the tenants whilst reducing tax collections.

    Lost a potential of housing 10 tenants

    Not a nice for everyone , when the government is giving tax incentives to support jobs
    Politician need to address and long term solution.not money grabbing , trying to run services on shoestring budget and dividing the community so the can exploit to suit their political party and aims rather then the country

    Work ethics do pay you work hard pay tax and when you invest for your future the government pulls the rug on you

    Better to stay on dole and let government pay your expense

    Hence no one wants to find job
    And push for freebies and government only to eager to please them in order not to upset their vote bank
    Hard times for everyone to follow till the economy forces their hand

    Expect break down in law and order as everyone is sleepwalking into disaster in next few years.

  • icon

    260,000 from Shelter, 500,000 from Generation Rent another bunch of so called charitable idiots and now we have Step Change stating there are 590,000 behind with their rent. "..... it wants Robert Jenrick to accelerate plans to scrap Section 21 evictions and amend court powers to give them the discretion to suspend a possession order in cases where arrears have built up.

    I wonder who is nearest the truth as far as the numbers are concerned? More than likely, none of them.

    What is staggering is that landlords just do not seem to be endorsing these numbers.

    Quite how a judge could go against the law as no doubt many a solicitor would point out the need for the law to be changed to allow this to happen just emphasises these so called charitable organisations live in la-la land.


    Govt & Judges would love jurisdiction over current (and only) S.8 mandatory ground. A tweak to the law whilst they’re removing S.21 and having to amend ability to evict because of sale won’t be too much drama. Read the first comment on this article for a little more of my thoughts.

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    • 22 July 2020 10:27 AM

    Indeed it certainly doesn't pay to work so generous is the welfare system.
    No surprise then when thousands risk their lives to illegally enter the UK where they know everything is for free.

    The UK offers free welfare and free healthcare.
    Hardly surprising why everyone wants to come here!!

    Work certainly doesn't pay when the welfare system is so generous.

    There will be very little incentive for those new and existing welfare scroungers to come off welfare for some crappy low wage job as that is all there will be.

    What will be needed is conscription into any job no matter what the wage.
    If Govt doesn't have the threat of conscription into a job then few welfare scroungers will bother finding their own.

    The big issue for LL is they may have little alternative than to receive LHA rates of rents as there won't be sufficient tenants who can afford market rents.

    Very bad news for mortgaged LL!!

     G romit

    And the first benefit to cut if a claimant is sanctioned.......yes you got it, housing benefit. Which the Landlord carries the can for.
    No wonder benefit claimants are shunned.

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    • 22 July 2020 11:00 AM

    Why and how can the Government decide the usage and the tenants of MY house, and who pays for it?

    Even everything they (Govt.) are giving way, will HAVE to be repaid by someone, and at some time, so surely if someone who does not pay me, must be paid for by someone else at some time, and NOT just forgotten stealing......According to the Government anyway!!!!!!

    We really do need some formal representation to Government about all these issues?

    What the hell are all these so called Landlord Representative bodies doing?

    I have seen totally no initiatives, no even suggestions, never mind positive action on LL behalf.....

    Whoo!!!! Hoo!!! - WHERE ARE YOU? WAKE UP....Or we all go bankrupt and you will also have no job. and no role.

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    Let us look at the positives in this. No sane landlord will take benefit tenants - defined specifically as those whose sole income is from benefits - so any such tenant who has a property better stay and behave for they will never get another one.


    Remember David, as I was told recently by a feckless one, "It is against the law to discriminate against DSAS or low income tenants".

    I couldn't reply because I could only think of replies that would insult her intelligence.

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    • 22 July 2020 11:34 AM

    Oooooo! 590,000 defaulting tenants?

    What fun I could have kicking out that load of shirking, robbing, thieving, stealing, feckless, work shy sneaky liars who should get off their VERY fat backsides and do something about what they rightly owe.

    And they should be forced to do it now, right now - They should be forced to sell their cars, jewellery, clothes, tools, furniture, and heaven hope their 50" TVs, iPads, and their children's Xbox's, Nintendo's, Smart phones and Face-Book subscriptions...everything they have.

    The kids MUST also be made to see what happens when you do not comply to contracts, and that debts of any sorts must be paid and that there is hurt in avoidance.

    IT MUST BE PAID, they have used something they did not pay for. Where in, or whatever business, is that allowed? They would definitely have to pay for anything they have bought in whatever other circumstances, except as a tenant. Why is that?

    Someone please tell me.........


    Come back Peter Rachman, all is forgiven!
    (For those lacking in education this is intended as an ironic commnet)

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    • 22 July 2020 11:43 AM

    I'm afraid that Govt very effectively sanctions fecklessness.
    If it didn't it would ensure LL on application would be given the whereabouts of feckless rent defaulting tenants.

    But when they know they still won't tell you.
    The system is set up to prevent civil recovery of any sort.
    Rarely is it cost effective to pursue Civil Recovery.

    A CCJ that isn't enforced for cost reasons might be an annoyance to an absconding rent defaulting tenant but that is about it!

  • girish mehta

    Politicians teaching next generations break the law and you will get rewarded. We will look after you as long as you vote for us. Er will divide section of society so we can blame them and then punish them. It was disabled people on benefits, then single parents, Nurses, doctors Eu nationals
    As long as they get to stay on power everything is ok
    Brexit back fired on them .
    2008 market crash managed for banks and wealthy got caught out on Covid but every thing is ok as long as we give you what you want for free to get your votes
    Day of reckoning is not far when firms will collapse. Less tax revenue and people not willing to work . Giving rise to social unrest.
    Government is legislating landlords to house people for free . The council and housing associations have failed to house these people and expect landlords to provide these services and house these poeople for free


    But that is the problem. These tenants will nbot vote conservative.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    So, .. evicting a tenant for not paying rent ( doesn't really matter to the landlords financial responsibilities what the reason is, )
    is according to the Debt Angels an " Unjust eviction "

    Question remains then, is will the Govt pay their rent ? ( answers on a postcard., or matchbox )


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