A number of buy-to-let landlords continue to work closely with tenants to support those in rent arrears as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, and while the stay on evictions for a further four weeks provides a brief reprieve for renters, more needs to be done to provide access to justice, according to the Law Society England and Wales.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced that it would be extending the stay on evictions for a further four weeks, until 20 September. But tenants are still required to pay their rent and landlords are still able to serve a notice of eviction, with a new six-month notice period in the majority of cases.
The government first introduced these measures on 26 March 2020, for an initial period of three months. The stay was then extended on 5 June until 24 August and has now been extended again so vulnerable tenants can get the help they need, and courts can continue to make the necessary arrangements.
Law Society president Simon Davis said: “The government and the courts have passed new court rules and provided extra protections to vulnerable tenants and those who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.
“However, more needs to be done, including resolving the legal aid deserts currently preventing tenants in some areas from receiving legal advice and making wider legislative changes to prevent a spike in homelessness.”
Stacy Eden, head of property and construction at Crowe, acknowledges that the government has extended the ban for evicting residential tenants in an attempt to protect them against a rise in evictions, but accepts that landlords also need greater support, with many facing arrears of their own as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
Eden commented: “A balance must be struck because it could be argued this comes at the expense of landlords who do not have the means to collect rent that they are owed and some landlords need this to live off or pay bank interest.
“A happy medium is therefore tough to find. It may be that the government is hoping this is the last extension of the ban in an attempt to be fair to landlords whilst ensuring most tenants and landlords can come to an agreement on rent owed, without the need for court proceedings.”