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A ban on tenant evictions in England, due to expire next week, has instead been extended until 20 September.
And falling into line with Wales, landlords in England will now be required, in most cases, to give tenants at least six month’s notice – a change that will stay in place until next year.
The unexpected change was announced today (Friday 21 August) by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
‘I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of COVID-19. That is why today I am announcing a further 4 week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for 6 months.
‘I am also increasing protections for renters – 6 month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.
‘However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again; and so when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases’.
The National Residential Landlords Association reacted with ‘fury’ to the news.
‘An enormous amount of work has gone into finding a balance between supporting tenants who have been affected by the pandemic and preventing significant financial harm to landlords, in accordance with the Government’s promise’, said NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle. ‘This announcement satisfies no one.
‘Landlords have been left powerless in exercising their legal right to deal with significant arrears unrelated to Covid-19, anti-social behaviour and extremely disruptive tenants who make life miserable for their neighbours and housemates.
‘Private landlords cannot be expected to foot the bill for government failure. There must now be a plan to support households to pay their bills and to compensate landlords fully for their lost income.
‘Only this will give both tenants and landlords security and reduce the risk of widespread tenancy failure’.
The Government has promised to keep the issue under review and ‘to take action where necessary to further protect households in both the private and social rented sector’.
But it repeated advice to tenants unable to afford their rent to speak to their landlords to agree a solution. Some households may decide to consider moving, it suggested.
‘Government will continue to work with the judiciary and stakeholders to ensure that the courts are prepared for eviction cases to be heard safely’.