The Law Society of England and Wales has come out in favour of the latest ban on bailiff-enforced evictions.
The extension to the ban was announced on Sunday morning, a week before the previous deadline was due to expire.
Law Society president David Greene says: “We are pleased that some tenants who would otherwise be facing eviction will be able to stay in their homes, particularly given the colder weather and the new variants of the virus. However, it should be noted that those with significant rent arrears are exempt from the ban, and as time goes on it is likely that more tenants will be evicted as a result of significant amounts of overdue rent.
“Eventually, fewer tenants will be protected by the ban and may become homeless, making it difficult to contain the virus.
“Funded early expert legal advice is vital to preventing unnecessary evictions and must continue to be available to all tenants alongside the mediation pilot, now deployed across all courts.
“While mediation certainly has its place in civil justice, particularly in light of the significant court backlogs, it must be ensured that access to justice through the adjudication process is not delayed.
“Informing tenants of their legal rights, such as benefit advice, could make a real difference to their ability to stay in their homes and not require the protection of the eviction ban.”
Meanwhile Isobel Thomson, the chief executive of industry accreditation service safeagent, says, “We recognise financial support for renters has been put in place to a certain extent by government, but shortfalls still exist between what the agreed rent at the start of a tenancy was and the amount tenants – whose circumstances have changed drastically through no fault of their own – can afford to pay.
“This comes at a huge cost to both tenants and landlords. Tenants have debt hanging over them with the anxiety that brings and landlords are struggling with financial commitments they must meet, particularly where properties are subject to buy to let mortgages.”