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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Exactly what the ban extension means to agents and tenants

The Law Society has set out exactly what the extension of the eviction ban, announced on Friday, means to agents, landlords and tenants.

The society says: 

- Courts are neither hearing nor progressing applications for possession orders made by landlords before March 24;

- This applies to all private or social housing tenancies as well as licenses falling under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977;

- The stay applies to England and Wales;

- There are exceptions: these include applications for possession against trespassers and applications for case management directions which have been agreed by all parties;

- Schedule 29 Coronavirus Act 2020 also remains in force until September 30. Under this Act, landlords must provide tenants with a notice period of six months when issuing a notice seeking possession;

- Tenants are still obliged to pay rent during this period. If they are unable to do so, the government encourages open and honest conversations between the landlord and tenant about the tenant’s ability to pay rent.

And here is the government announcement in full, as released mid-afternoon on Friday:

Renters affected by coronavirus will continue to be protected after the government extended the ban on evictions for another 4 weeks, meaning in total no legal evictions will have taken place for 6 months, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced today (21 August 2020).

The government also intends to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March.

The government will keep these measures under review with decisions guided by the latest public health advice.

When courts do resume eviction hearings they will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, ensuring landlords are able to progress the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as where landlords have not received rent for over a year and would otherwise face unmanageable debts.

The government has taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries – meaning no tenants have been evicted since the start.

As a result, according to independent research, 87% of tenants have continued to pay full rent since the start of the pandemic, with a further 8% agreeing reduced fees with their landlords.

The vast majority of landlords have shown understanding and leadership, taking action to support tenants.

With coronavirus still posing an ongoing risk to public health, the government will continue to take action where necessary to further protect households in both the private and social rented sector are supported over winter, helping to keep them safe.

Today’s extension to the stay and 6 month notice periods will ensure those most at risk are protected. If tenants are unable to afford their rent we encourage them to speak to their landlord to agree a solution, and some households may decide to consider moving.

Government will continue to work with the judiciary and stakeholders to ensure that the courts are prepared for eviction cases to be heard safely.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said:

“I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of COVID-19. That is why today I am announcing a further 4 week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for 6 months.

“I am also increasing protections for renters – 6 month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.

"However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again; and so when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases.”

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    So that's as clear as mud, what about existing notices that have already been given 3 month notice? Are they still valied? I understood that court was processing applications for court orders from 24th September and NOT 24th March

  • Paul Barrett

    Law Society has it wrong.
    Lodgers are not protected from removal.
    A lodger agreement is a licence to occupy.

    This why taking on lodgers rather than tenants is far more effective.
    Just need to be able to afford multiple resi mortgages..................not so easy.

  • icon

    '..........The government has taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic,......'. Really?
    '.......The government will keep these measures under review with decisions guided by the latest public health advice.......'
    In short this means that until the pandemic is over and we have a working vaccine the measures will continue to be extended.
    Get used to it as it aint going nowhere until we have a cure. The Gov't has spent massive amounts of money supporting people and they sure as hell do not want to have to fund rent arrears or temporary housing as well. These costs will come back to all of us in higher taxes.
    Paul Barrett has the right idea, don't rent to any who can't afford it and sell up as soon as sensibly practical. The end result will force the Gov't to pay for these wasters and it will remove the burden from landlord's right back to those who have proceeded to fleece landlords, i.e., our Gov't. After all we have done as a group to support those without their own homes, we do not deserve this kind of medieval punishment.

  • David dOrton-Gibson

    Just to be clear. The court extension is till 20 September, not March. The requirement to serve section 8 and 21 for 6 months will run till end March. There is a question of what benefit the 4 week delay to the courts will have when they have been closed for 5 months. The simple answer is that it takes it beyond the beginning of September when Parliament sits again so they can pass other legislation. For example, they could suspend section 21 and ground 8 so any claim had to be discretionary and the judge could decide based on the information about each case. This would require an act to amend the Housing Act 1988. Do not expect this to be the last amendment.

    The comment about licences is correct as they state licences within the Protection From Eviction Act. As Paul says, resident landlords with lodgers are excluded from Protection from Eviction, but the article does not talk about lodgers of resident landlords.

    Matthew Payne

    This was simply kicking the can down the road to give them a bit of breathing space and thinking time, as you say the 4 week extension doesn't really have any practical benefit, but the pressure from lobbyists about Manic Monday and an avalanche of evictions wasn't a risk worth taking when any spare time they had when on holiday has been managing other more immediately pressing issues, like exam results, the return of children to school, quarantines, Brexit negotiations etc.

    As far as the 20 September, dont be surprised to see this extended again or legislation passed. No government will want to see people being evicted at its hand (as this would be seen as when Scotland and Wales have extended already), after furlough ends, during winter, during a pandemic when cases and deaths may well be rising, when we may well not have a trade deal with Europe perhaps and of course just before Local Council Elections in May. If I was Boris I would be looking to kick the can hard into the Spring when better weather arrives, when we might have a better idea on what the economy looks like and when a vaccine might be ready.

     
  • Paul Barrett

    Many lenders will have repossessed properties before LL are able to evict.
    It can't be too long before LL default on mortgage payments.

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