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“We Need A COVID-19 Rent Debt Fund To Clear The Debts Of Renters”

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Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, an organisation whose aim is to “make sure that the voices of private renters are heard”, has called for the government to introduce a Covid-19 rent debt fund “to clear the debts of renters whose incomes have been hit by the lockdown”.

Kennedy’s call follows the publication of Ministry of Justice statistics which show ‘no-fault’ evictions of rental tenants are continuing in abundance, despite ministers’ promise to prioritise only “the most egregious cases”.

The statistics show how, between the months of October and December 2020,  346 households were physically evicted, 189 under Section 8, and 157 under Section 21.

In the same time period, English courts granted more than 400 possession orders under Section 8, and 1,289 under Section 21.

Kennedy said:

“Renters facing a no-fault eviction could have got behind on rent or their landlord could be selling up to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

“These cases are the opposite of egregious – renters have done nothing wrong but the court is still telling them to move out. Even paying back arrears makes no difference.

“Being forced to move without a chance to appeal is barbaric in normal times, but with the eviction ban lifting on the 21st it means many of these renters will be made homeless while everyone else continues to be told to stay at home.

“We need a COVID-19 Rent Debt Fund to clear the debts of renters whose incomes have been hit by the lockdown, but the government must also suspend Section 21 evictions so blameless renters don’t lose their homes while we’re still fighting the virus.”

What is Section 8?

A Section 8 order is issued to you when your landlord wants you to leave your home. You will not have to leave the property straight away.

Your landlord needs good reason to issue a Section 8 notice, such as rent arrears, damage to the property, and causing a nuisance to your neighbours.

If a Section 8 order is not valid, your landlord will have to take you to court to evict you. 

One reason for a notice being invalid is if it does not contain all of the relevant information. This includes your name, the address of the property, the grounds for possession, and the date your notice ends.

What is Section 21?

A Section 21 order is issued to you when your landlord wants you to leave your home. You will not have to leave the property straight away.

Unlike a Section 8, however, your landlord needs no grounds to serve you a Section 21. They may want to sell the property or move back in themselves, for example. 

A Section 21 comes with a fixed notice period, giving you time to prepare for the move. This notice period depends on the date you were issued the order.

Your section 21 notice won’t be valid if you haven’t been given enough notice. The amount of notice you should get will depend on when you got your section 21 notice.

If before 26th March 2020, your landlord must give you at least 2 months’ notice.

If between 26th March and 28th August 2020, your landlord must give you 3 months’ notice.

If on or after 29th August 2020, your landlord must give you 6 months’ notice.

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