The government has announced that the ban on evicting private rental tenants is to be extended to at least the end of March 2021, having been previously scheduled to end on 21st February.
The move means that landlords are not allowed to serve eviction notices to their tenants for at least another six weeks. The government hopes that this ban will help to protect tenants from being kicked out of their homes at this ‘difficult time’, as Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said.
It’s important to be clear that the eviction ban does not mean that no tenants at all can be evicted. It simply means that only the most serious cases will be pursued at the moment. It’s an attempt to protect people whose income has been negatively affected by lockdowns and furlough, etc, and caused them to fall behind on rent payments.
Pressure groups, and members of the Labour party, have been quick to say it’s still not enough. The government has refused to give money directly to people who are entering rent arrears as a direct result of the pandemic, and so a temporary pause on evictions is, many fear, simply postponing an inevitable eviction when the government says they’re legal again.
Furthermore, this method of incrementally extending the ban by a few weeks at a time fails to give tenants appropriate long-term protection and instead causes unnecessary stress.
Shadow Housing Secretary, Thangam Debbonaire, said:
“Last-minute decisions and half-measures from the government are putting people’s homes at risk.
“Ministers promised nobody would lose their home because of coronavirus, but the current ban isn’t working.
“The government should give people security in their homes, by strengthening and extending the ban for the period [virus] restrictions are in place.”
For the time being, tenants can feel pretty safe in their homes. But our advice would be to stay in constant friendly communication with your landlord. Let them know exactly how your finances are being affected, how this is going to impact your ability to pay rent, and how they can help make it more affordable or at least less stressful.
The announcement comes after the leader of Generation Rent made a public call for the government to introduce a COVID-19 Rent Debt Fund to help tenants pay off the financial debts caused by the pandemic. This call to the government came after it was made clear that, despite the eviction ban, evictions have been happening thick and fast during the pandemic.