Ban on tenant evictions extended in England and Wales
The government has extended the ban on evictions it put in place to protect tenants struggling as a result of the coronavirus.
The move means that eviction notices – which could have started again on 11 January – must not be served for at least another six weeks in England, until 21 February.
In Wales, eviction orders have been banned for longer, until the end of March.
Scotland has also implemented an evictions’ ban until 31 March in all areas subject to level of restrictions three or four.
Last March the government passed the Coronavirus Act, which among other things, made it illegal for landlords to evict renters for a specified amount of time.
This also meant that irrespective of the type of tenancy, or what kind of notice was served, or for whatever reason, all notice periods for evictions were extended from three to a minimum of six months.
The six-month minimum notice period is in place until at least the end of March, and is being reviewed periodically.
There are only a few exceptions to the ban and extended notice periods, such as cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.
What happens if a tenant is struggling to pay the rent?
The best thing for tenants to do is speak with their landlords as soon as possible to explain their situation and attempt to set up a feasible plan.
The government has said that it’s important landlords offer support and understanding to tenants who may start to see their income fluctuate.
There is no specific plan that a landlord needs to agree to, so it’s important that tenants, letting agents, and landlords work together to find solutions that will work for everyone.
If you’re a tenant, it’s also worth speaking with your local authority, as there may be help available for you.
I’m a landlord, and my tenant is causing problems. What are my options?
There simply is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to this. Landlords are urged to, where possible, work collaboratively with their tenants to come to mutual agreements.
In cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse, or if tenants have built up more than six months’ rent arrears, landlords may apply for a court order, as there are exceptions in place for these.
However, there could be a backlog of eviction cases in the pipeline, and it’s possible landlords will not be able to gain possession of their properties for a while.
One option is to consider mediation. Organisations such as the Property Redress Scheme and The Property Ombudsman offer mediation services between landlords and tenants to aid finding a resolution over issues which have arisen during a tenancy.
Mediation is a voluntary, impartial and confidential process, which allows disputes to be resolved much quicker and with less cost than going through courts.
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