The government’s decision to not extend the ban on landlords evicting renters beyond 20 September is a major concern for many private renters worried about being able to pay their rent.
Renters across England and Wales received greater protection last month after the government once again extended the suspension of new evictions until 20 September, taking the moratorium on evictions to a total of six months.
The move was designed to ensure that renters continue to have certainty and security during the Covid-19 pandemic. But with the evictions ban having now expired, there is growing concern among some private renters, especially those worried that they may lose their homes, but that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, according to law firm Royds Withy King.
Jacqui Walton, a senior paralegal in the residential property team at Royds Withy King, said: “The government introduced its moratorium on tenant evictions in March and extended it further in June.
“The moratorium expired on 20 September, although we should not rule out a further reintroduction if lockdown measures need to be reintroduced.
“It is unlikely that we will see an immediate spike in evictions and certainly not tenants kicked out onto the streets any time soon. Landlords are bound by strict rules designed to slow the process down.”
Landlords that started eviction proceedings before the 3 August must now serve what is called a ‘reactivation notice’. If they do not, any claim will not be relisted by the courts or heard by a judge.
And even when a reactivation notice is served, in fault-based evictions the courts will allow more time between the claim and hearing, typically eight weeks, and given the backlog of cases that is likely to be significantly longer.
Walton continued: “Eviction claims that started on or after the 3 August now require landlords to enter into what is called a ‘pre-action protocol’, with landlords needing to attempt to agree a resolution with their tenants before issuing a possession claim. Landlords will also need to provide the courts with information on what impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on a tenant, which may have an impact on how much time a tenant is given by the court to vacate a property.
“The guidance on what this means for landlords, what information is needed and what happens if it is not provided is unclear and could leave eviction claims stuck in the courts for many months to come, leaving landlords in limbo.
“Whilst this may give respite to tenants, there does not appear to be any recognition from government that landlords too may be struggling with the loss of income during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Private landlords play a major role in the provision of homes in the UK and whilst it is right that tenants are protected, it must also be remembered that landlords too need protections. The current regime is failing landlords.”