The ongoing ban on bailiff evictions due to end on 21st February is to be extended for a further six weeks until 31st March, the government has announced today.
This confirms a government decision made on this ‘in principle’ last week as LandlordZONE reported, which has now been confirmed.
This means once more bailiffs will be prevented from moving to evict tenants whose landlords have secured possession orders under the current narrow terms.
These are supposed to only include extreme rent arrears, trespass, anti-social behaviour and victims of domestic violence but, due to inconsistent approach within the court system, also includes some Section 21 ‘no fault’ notice evictions.
Landlords are currently able to serve Section 21 and Section 8 notices and gain possession orders, once they have overcome the considerable process hoops they are required to jump through.
These include waiting six months before serving a notice in the first place, and ‘extreme rent arrears’ exemption being limited to six months’ arrears or more.
Robert Jenrick (pictured) MP says: “We have taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic including introducing a six-month notice period and financial support to help those struggling to pay their rent.
“By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time.
“Our measures strike the right balance between protecting tenants and enabling landlords to exercise their right to justice.”
Get a grip
“Today’s announcement does nothing to help over 800,000 private renters who have built rent arrears since lockdown measures started last year,” says Ben Beadle of the NRLA.
“It means debts will continue to mount to the point where they have no hope of paying them off. It will lead eventually to them having to leave their home and face serious damage to their credit scores.
“The Government needs to get a grip and do something about the debt crisis renters and landlords are now facing.
“A package of hardship loans and grants is needed as a matter of urgency. To expect landlords and tenants simply to muddle through without further support is a strategy that has passed its sell by date.”
Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action (pictured) says: “This further extension comes as no surprise.
“We still do not know if lockdown is going to be extended, but I’ve been saying for the past few weeks that I can’t see evictions restarting until April or May. This is on top of the six months landlords must wait before serving a notice.
“Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing the exemption cases for extreme rental arrears being dealt with by the bailiffs. Rent arrears are racking up and landlords’ desperation continues.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter (pictured), says: “Thousands of renters who’ve been living in fear of the bailiffs’ knock at the door, have today been given a few more weeks in their home.
“This short extension to the bailiff ban may keep people safe for now, but it’s not an answer to the evictions crisis.
“Renters are still are being served with eviction notices every day, and our helpline is flooded with calls from those desperately worried about paying their rent.
“Before the ban is lifted, the government must give renters a real way out of debt. That means a lifeline of emergency grants to help pay off ‘Covid-arrears’ so people can avoid the terrifying risk of eviction altogether.”