Coronavirus – Rental eviction ban extended to August
In continued efforts to support those who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government has extended the ban on rental evictions in England and Wales by a further two months, until 23 August.
Emergency legislation to protect renters from eviction was first introduced on 18 March. When it was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the new law was initially in force for three months to protect those who would be struggling to make their rent payments. It was due to end on 25 June.
Now, the extension will give a little more breathing space to those renters who are struggling financially due to the pandemic.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic. Today, I am announcing that the government’s ban on evictions will be extended for another two months. That takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months.
“Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.
“We are also working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions proceedings do recommence, arrangements, including rules, are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding.”
However, the housing charity Shelter have warned that this extension has only delayed the potential eviction issue. Chief Executive Polly Neate said, “The Government has reset the clock on the evictions ban, buying the families who were only weeks away from losing their homes a vital stay of execution. But it’s only a stop-gap.
“The ban hasn’t stopped people who’ve lost their jobs during this pandemic from racking up rent arrears. Even if they have a plan to pay them back, these debts will throw struggling renters straight back into the firing line of an automatic eviction as soon as the ban does lift.”Get free advice
What do I do if I can’t pay my rent?
While the extended eviction moratorium will definitely ease a little of the pressure if you’re a tenant, it’s still important to let your landlord know if you think you’ll struggle to manage your rent payments. Stopping payments entirely without having that conversation will make it more difficult to maintain a positive relationship with your landlord in the future.
It’s always a good idea to pay what you can afford – even if that’s less than usual. If your budget won’t stretch to the full amount of your rent right now, contributing at least a proportion of your monthly rent shows your landlord you’re trying. It’s important to keep a record of what you do pay in case you have to prove that you’ve been making payments at any point in the future.
Although the law is temporarily more lenient in regard to eviction, you’re still liable for your rent, so paying a little now will make it easier to catch up with any missed payments later.
It helps to have a plan that works for both parties. For example, you could propose that you spread any missed payments over future rent payments or discuss an affordable payment plan for managing arrears in the future with your landlord.
Will I be evicted after the ban ends?
Usually, tenants on an assured shorthold (the most common form of tenancy agreement) can be notified of eviction as soon as they’re eight weeks behind on their rent, at which point they have two weeks’ notice to leave the property.
However, during the emergency period, if your landlord does wish to evict you, they have to give you at least three months’ notice before they can start proceedings against you if you live in England or Wales.
The government has also stressed that court proceeding are an absolute last resort, and that landlords should “exhaust all possible options” first.
In Scotland, this is slightly different; emergency legislation introduced in April means that you must have been given six months’ notice before your landlord can start eviction proceedings against you.Get free advice
How are landlords being affected?
According to one independent poll commissioned by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), 81% of tenants surveyed said that they had continued to pay their rent as usual since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, and 84% had not asked for any support from their landlord.
What should I do if my tenants aren’t paying their rent?
If you’re a landlord and you’re worried you won’t be able to keep up your mortgage payments on a property you rent out, you have the option of applying for a three-month mortgage payment break.
You’ll be eligible to apply if your tenants have contacted you because they’re unable to make their mortgage payments due to coronavirus. Bear in mind that you’ll need to be up to date with your mortgage payments, and you have to let your bank know – don’t just cancel your Direct Debit payments.
The government recently extended the period in which homeowners can request a mortgage holiday, so if you haven’t yet applied, you have until 31 October 2020. It’s worth bearing in mind that for any payment holiday you do take, you’ll still be charged interest for the period.