The government has made a grave mistake extending the evictions ban in England and Wales by four weeks, it has been suggested.
Ministers bowed to pressure to avoid what they feared would be a devastating homelessness crisis by extending the ban beyond Monday.
The measure was first introduced in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the ban has already been extended to March 2021.
But despite widespread concerns, there was unlikely to be an immediate spike in tenant evictions, according to law firm Collyer Bristow.
Lauren McQue, a senior associate in the real estate litigation team at the company, said: “Whilst it is likely that we will see an increase in possession claims, that is unlikely to result in an immediate August spike in evictions. The courts face a backlog of cases and continuing social distancing measures could see most cases progress slowly.
“There will not be the bulk listing of residential possession cases seen before the coronavirus pandemic.”
With many landlords now starting to feel the financial pain of the pandemic, Elisabeth Kohlbach, CEO of Skwire, believes that the government U-turn has done little to address the issue.
She commented: “The last-minute U-turn to extend the ban on landlords evicting tenants in England by another month until 20 September is a misstep.
“Such brief, periodic extensions are unlikely to offer any real help to tenants without specific legislation, and adds further pressure on landlords who are not only unlikely to evict those with Covid-related financial problems, but have been unable to deal with significant arrears.
“Indeed, this decision further shifts the burden to the many landlords who are depending on rental income to get by and have had no government support, away from tenants who, thanks to upfront affordability checks and furlough pay, have been supported to keep paying rent.
“The decision doesn’t satisfy either side, and neither will another short extension further down the line.”
Oli Sherlock, head of insurance at Goodlord, believes that extending the evictions ban to 20th September is simply “kicking the can down the road”.
He said: “It’s helpful for neither tenants nor landlords. Arbitrary extensions simply delay the issue instead of addressing it and this announcement doesn’t seem to have come with a strategy attached.
"There are tenants who will have arrears building up - leaving them with huge amounts of personal debt for every month they are unable to pay their rent. At the same, landlords are becoming increasingly anxious about meeting their mortgage commitments or accessing what is often their only source of income. Both groups need more support. If we don't use this extension wisely to come up with a better, more robust plan, we're just compounding the issue.
"The vast majority of tenants and landlords have been communicating effectively throughout this period and making concessions wherever possible to keep people in their homes. But with situations becoming more difficult for many, we need a better system to meet these new housing challenges.
“The government needs to introduce greater financial support for renters and create new routes to get them into more affordable homes. And they need to strengthen the safety net for landlords who themselves are being financially impacted by the evictions ban. Given the multitude of challenges landlord’s have faced in recent years, this decision will do very little to attract new landlords to the market - something which is desperately needed to meet increasing demand for quality housing for renters."