Martin Lewis, the celebrity consumer rights campaigner behind MoneySavingExpert, has called upon the government to extend the current ban on bailiffs evicting tenants, even if courts have agreed possession orders.
Lewis - who specialises in personal finance campaigns, often backed up by TV shows and media appearances - has taken to Twitter with a message to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
Lewis tweets: “ Dear Robert Jenrick, as you know the Eng/Wales ban on baliffs evicting rental tenants is due to end on Monday. I presume you'll be extending this (it'd be madness not to). Please can you put people's mind at rest as soon as possible.”
The tweet bought rapid responses and retweets from the Generation Rent and Shelter campaigns.
Generation Rent qualified its support for Lewis by suggesting he did not go far enough.
The campaign group’s tweet said: “The government must bring back a FULL eviction ban. Yes, they need to stop bailiffs evicting people from their homes but they must also stop the court processing evictions, so renters aren’t under pressure to move as this public health crisis continues.”
The National Residential Landlords Association says it is “extremely likely” there will be an extension to the current ban on bailiffs conducting evictions even after court orders have been made. The current ban runs until January 11.
Yesterday MPs voted with an overwhelming majority to support the new England lockdown, which is expected to last until late February at least. The NRLA says this measure is likely to end with arrears being driven up.
Eviction bans of one kind or another have existed for almost a year now in most of the UK.
The first formal eviction ban started in March and ended in September, only to be reinstated in areas classified as Covid risk Tier 2 or Tier 3 during the autumn. Then on November 5 the government said renters would be protected during the second England-wide restrictions with no bailiff enforcement action, except for the most egregious cases such as anti-social behaviour.
The government also said that an exemption would be introduced for extreme pre-Covid rent arrears cases - those evictions could take place after all, thus meaning bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers could move to enforce warrants and complete evictions.
However, this will only apply to cases where the equivalent of nine months’ rent arrears had been built up before March 23 last year, when the UK went into its first national lockdown.