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End of eviction ban confirmed 13/05/2021 Labelled as Regulation

Government has confirmed that the ban on bailiff enforcement will be lifted when the current regulations expire on 31 May 2021.


A ban on evictions was introduced in March 2020 at the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown and has been extended several times since. The restrictions prevent landlords from repossessing properties when they have valid grounds, delaying rather that preventing homelessness, and results in a further build-up of rent arrears if there are affordability concerns, which helps neither landlord nor tenant.


Given the requirement to provide 14 days' notice, no evictions are expected until mid-June, except in the most serious cases and Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if they have been made aware that anyone living the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.


Tenants will continue to benefit from longer notice periods until 30 September. However, starting from 1 June, notice periods will gradually reduce so that protections do not fall away suddenly. The Government's intention is that notice periods will return to normal lengths from 1 October, unless the public health situation warrants a further extension.


Notice periods which are currently six months, including Section 21 (of the Housing Act 1988) and termination of local authority flexible tenancies under s.107D of the Housing Act 1985, will reduce to at least 4 months from 1 June. Notice periods for the most serious cases such as anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse and false statement, already have lower notice periods.


For local authority introductory and demoted tenancies, the lower notice periods will be extended to include where the landlord's reason for possession includes false statement and serious rent arrears. 


There will be a further taper for cases where there are four months' or more of unpaid rent on 1 August, when the notice period will reduce to 2 months. This takes into consideration the greater difference between COVID and pre-COVID notice periods for rent arrears grounds. Currently, the threshold for what is considered 'serious arrears' is set at 6 months' of rent arrears. As an interim step, this will also be reduced to where there is 4 months of arrears from 1 June.


 The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue to provide financial support until 30 September 2021 and the government is extending the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit until the end of September 2021 and have made £140 million in Discretionary Housing Payments funding available for local authorities. Local Housing Allowance rates are being maintained at their increased level in cash terms.


Further details of the Government announcement can be found on the Government website.


ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby comments:


"The ban on evictions could only ever be a temporary measureand continuing to extend the ban without addressing the underlying accrued arrears/debt problems is rather like building a dam wall ever higher to hold back the stream of arrears cases, but when that dam wall is removed councils are likely to see a rise in homeless applications over the next 12-24 months as cases find their way to court.  


Councils remain very concerned over the potential rise in homelessness households may face, and the pressure this will add to already over-stretched homelessness services.


The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government say that information from the Household Resilience Survey shows that the vast majority of tenants are up to date with their rent and, of those who are in arrears, most have arrears of less than two months' rent and argue that therefore the majority of tenants will continue to be protected while measures gradually reduce back to normal. 


However, in February, the Resolution Foundation said that some 450,000 families were thought to have fallen behind on rent as a result of the coronavirus crisis.


At the last count there were already over 95,000 homeless households living in temporary accommodation and the concern among many authorities is that as the eviction ban is lifted and landlords in the private rented sector begin to take action to recover rent arrears the number of people threatened with homelessness will only increase." 

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