The Prime Minister has told MPs that the eviction ban effectively in place now but scheduled to expire on January 11 is officially “under review.”
Boris Johnson made the commitment to the review yesterday afternoon after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demanded the government to extend the eviction ban "which is due to run out in just five days”.
Johnson offered no further details of the review nor when it would be concluded and how it might be put in place.
Johnson’s response triggered a flurry of demands from pressure groups including Shelter and Generation Rent.
“Glad to hear the eviction ban is under review. But there are now just 5 days before bailiffs are due to start evictions! At every step of this crisis, renters have been let-down by this government. The government must publish its plan to ban evictions and end rent debt” tweeted Generation Rent.
And Baroness Alicia Kennedy, who runs Generation Rent, tweeted from her personal account: “We must keep renters safely in their homes during this lockdown. The eviction ban needs to be brought back and we need action to help end rent debt.”
Eviction bans of one kind or another have existed for almost a year now in most of the UK.
The first formal eviction ban started in March and ended in September, only to be reinstated in areas classified as Covid risk Tier 2 or Tier 3 during the autumn. Then on November 5 the government said renters would be protected during the second England-wide restrictions with no bailiff enforcement action, except for the most egregious cases such as anti-social behaviour.
The government also said that an exemption would be introduced for extreme pre-Covid rent arrears cases - those evictions could take place after all, thus meaning bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers could move to enforce warrants and complete evictions.
However, this will only apply to cases where the equivalent of nine months’ rent arrears had been built up before March 23 last year, when the UK went into its first national lockdown.