Martin Ford 21 August 2020

Evictions ban extended

The Government has extended the ban on evictions of renters for a further month following lobbying by councils.

A temporary ban, introduced during the coronavirus lockdown, was due to end on Sunday but the 11th-hour extension means it will remain in place until September 20.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority and a coalition of Labour council leaders including the London, Liverpool city region and North of Tyne mayors were among those who wrote to communities secretary Robert Jenrick calling for an extension.

This afternoon’s extension also includes an extension of notice periods to six months unless the case involves anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse, until March.

Mr Jenrick said: ‘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 four week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for six months.

‘I am also increasing protections for renters - six 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.’

Housing charity Shelter welcomed the move, but said protections must be put in place when the ban ends.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: ‘The Government must use this short window of time wisely to put proper safeguards in place for renters.

‘People are still falling behind on their rent – 230,000 private tenants since March - leaving them vulnerable when the ban does end.’

The District Councils’ Network (DCN) has carried out research suggesting as many as 500,000 households could be at risk.

It found 486,242 households were paying more than half of their income on private rented housing, leaving them vulnerable.

DCN has called for more funding for council homelessness support services, lifting the benefit cap and a permanent increase in housing benefit to cover the lowest third of market rent.

 Cllr Giles Archibald, DCN better lives spokesman, said: 'The extension is welcome but we must use this time to put in place a plan for when the ban is lifted, because it cannot stay in place forever.

'For now those families can rest assured they won’t lose their homes. In the meantime government needs to work with councils to develop a plan to support tenants and landlords for once it is lifted.'

London Councils has also pressed for increased funding and changes to benefits, in addition to a 12-month suspension of no recourse to public funds restrictions .

It has estimated that boroughs will spend an extra £96m on homelessness and rough sleeping due to the impact of COVID-19.

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