Housing minister Chris Pincher has confirmed that the definition of ‘substantial arrears’ for the purposes of possession orders and evictions will remain at six months.
The ‘substantial arrears’ definition has become critical for possession orders in the past year.
For most of 2020 landlords could seek possession orders only against tenants with at least nine months’ rent arrears built up before March 23 2020 - the date of the first Coronavirus national lockdown.
However, recently this has been amended to six months rather than nine, and it was no longer required that those arrears had to be accumulated before last March, so arrears built up during lockdowns could be included.
Various campaigners wanted the nine month pre-March 2020 threshold reinstated but now housing minister Christ Pincher has confirmed that the government won’t amend the definition of ‘substantial arrears’ back to nine months.
He made the announcement in a response to Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton, who asked in a written Parliamentary question whether the nine month term could be restored.
Pincher’s response said there were no plans to drop the new six month threshold.
“The government believes that it is proportionate to widen the rent arrears exemption to the ban on the enforcement of residential evictions to cases where a court is satisfied that a possession order was granted on the grounds of rent arrears and where more than six months of rent is outstanding” he wrote.
“This change is intended to balance the effect of the ongoing restrictions on landlords with the need to continue to protect tenants.”