The six-month tenant eviction ban, which finally ended yesterday, has helped renters that are suffering financial difficulty, but it has also left landlords powerless to take action against renters committing domestic abuse or making the lives of fellow tenants or neighbours a misery.
Cases where tenants who are committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence and situations where rent arrears were building before lockdown and have nothing to do with Covid-19 must be given top priority by the courts and their processes enhanced to avoid further delay once they start to deal with possession cases this week, according to the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
There is inevitably a backlog of cases. Between January and March, just before the ban was put in place, there were 24,320 claims made by private and social landlords to repossess property; 8,093 claims led to a repossession order being made and 1,336 led to a warrant being issued for repossession in England and Wales.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “After a six month ban on repossessions it is important that landlords can start to take action to tackle the most serious cases. This includes those where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence and situations where rent arrears were building before lockdown and have nothing to do with Covid-19.
“The framework put in place by the judiciary and the government largely strikes the right balance between the needs of landlords in such situations and those of tenants affected by the pandemic.
“We continue to encourage landlords to work with their tenants to sustain tenancies wherever possible, making use of the guidance we have prepared. To support this the Government should follow the example of Scotland and Wales and develop a stronger financial package to help tenants to pay off rent arrears built since the lockdown started.
“Ministers also need to address the crisis faced by those landlords who have rented their homes out whilst working elsewhere. The six months’ notice required in such circumstances freezes them out of accessing their own homes, effectively making them homeless.”