Local authority leaders have expressed concern over the Government’s decision to end the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions on 31 May.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher announced yesterday that the current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, will end at the end of this month.
He also confirmed that notice periods – previously extended to six months as an emergency measure during the pandemic – will be set at four months from 1 June. They will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October.
‘From the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented action to protect renters and help keep them in their homes,’ he said.
‘As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the Roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.
‘Crucial financial support also remains in place including the furlough scheme and uplift to Universal Credit.’
Cllr David Renard, Local Government Association (LGA) housing spokesperson, warned that councils remained ‘concerned’ over the potential rise in homelessness once the lockdown ends.
‘We recognise that the ban on eviction enforcement, which provided vital reassurance to renters during the pandemic, cannot continue indefinitely,’ he said.
‘However, councils remain concerned over the potential rise in homelessness households may face, and the pressure this will add to already over-stretched homelessness services.
‘It is vital there is a plan in place to support and protect households to stay in their homes, in as many cases as possible.’
This week the Government announced that a White Paper will be published in the autumn that will set out proposals to reform the private rented sector.
This includes proposals for the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and a new ‘lifetime deposit’ to ease the burden when moving house.
‘We look forward to working with Government on the detail of the Renters’ Reforms package announced in the Queen’s Speech, to ensure that everyone can live in a safe and decent home, have access to a clear redress process and not live in fear of “no fault” evictions, which Government should now bring forward its pledge to end,’ said Cllr Renard.
‘There should also be a renewed focus on investing in homelessness prevention services, ensuring councils have the resources to support households at risk of homelessness, including restoration of welfare funding to at least £250m a year and a review of the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme.
‘Councils also need greater ability to invest in building much-needed social housing, through further reform of Right to Buy.’