Tuesday, 27 Oct 2020

Thousands of renters at risk of homelessness as ban on eviction ends

Tens of thousands of renters could lose their homes as the ban on evictions ends today.

The emergency legislation protected anyone served with an eviction notice during the pandemic in England and Wales with a six-month notice period.

Without it, landlords can take tenants to court if they cannot pay their rent and ultimately make them homeless.

Campaign group Generation Rent say up to around 55,000 households in England, who were served notices between March and August, were not protected by the ban and need further help.

Labour has called for protective measures to be extended and warned of a winter homelessness crisis.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate has said renters served notice before August could still face automatic eviction from Monday, while for those served notice after August ‘the measures simply delay the threat of homelessness’.

A 26-year-old tenant from Warwickshire, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was given notice by her landlord on April 2 for September 30.

But she has found it difficult to find a new home as she is a DSS tenant, meaning she is on benefits.

She said she had found a property but it is only available in November, meaning she has over a month in which her current landlord will be able to apply for a court ruling to have her forcibly removed.

She said: ‘I am remaining anyway, because I’m not intentionally making myself homeless… but that will leave me liable for a lot of court fees and does risk me being told by the courts to leave with two weeks’ warning.’

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said councils are ‘concerned that the ending of the ban could see a rise in homelessness’.

The National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) added it is important to begin tackling the ‘most serious cases’ including tenants committing anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse, or with rent arrears which ‘have nothing to do with Covid-19’.

NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle said: ‘We continue to encourage landlords to work with their tenants to sustain tenancies wherever possible, making use of the guidance we have prepared.

‘To support this the Government should follow the example of Scotland and Wales and develop a stronger financial package to help tenants to pay off rent arrears built since the lockdown started.

‘Ministers also need to address the crisis faced by those landlords who have rented their homes out whilst working elsewhere.

‘The six months’ notice required in such circumstances freezes them out of accessing their own homes, effectively making them homeless.’

A government spokeswoman said: ‘We’ve taken unprecedented action to support renters by banning evictions for six months, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries.

‘To help keep people in their homes over the winter months, we’ve changed the law to increase notice periods to six months and introduced a ‘winter truce’ on the enforcement of evictions for the first time.

‘In addition we have put in place a welfare safety net of nearly £9.3 billion and increased Local Housing Allowance rates to cover the lowest 30% of market rents.’

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