Another year, another lockdown, another extension to the ban on evictions of Residential Tenants

Regular readers/gluttons for punishment will be aware that since March 2020, I have written a few articles on the measures introduced in response to the Coronavirus pandemic insofar as they apply to rented residential and commercial property.  In short, these measures have focussed on providing tenants with protection from eviction.

On 8 January 2021, the Government updated its Guidance for Landlords and Tenants in the private and social housing sector, announcing that it was “extending existing legislation to ensure bailiffs do not serve eviction notices, except in the most serious circumstances”. There continue to be exceptions to the ban on enforcing evictions, these being:

  • illegal occupation;
  • false statement;
  • anti-social behaviour;
  • perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector;
  • where a property is unoccupied following death of a tenant; and
  • serious rent arrears greater than 6 months’ rent.

One point to note is that previous bans on evictions prevented residential properties being recovered on the basis of rent arrears, regardless of the level of rent arrears. The amended Guidance, however, highlights that where more than 6 months’ rent is outstanding, evictions will now be enforced. This is a significant change, and one which could catch many tenants off-guard.

Whilst the extension will come as a blessed relief for tenants who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves enduring financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and fearful of losing their homes as a result of rent arrears (being the very tenants that the legislation was intended to protect), it will come as a blow for those landlords of tenants who have simply chosen not to pay their rent, leaving those landlords with no option but to continue to wait to see when the ban on evictions will end.

The latest extension to the ban on evictions was very much last minute, bearing in mind the previous  ban was due to come to an end on 11 January 2021. This will, some have suggested, be the last extension to the eviction ban that was brought in in response to Covid 19. Personally, given that the Guidance very clearly states that the extension “will be in place for at least [my emphasis] six weeks until the end of 21 February and will be kept under review”, coupled with the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any genuine optimism that Coronavirus will be anywhere near under control by late February 2021, I expect that there will be a further extension to the evictions ban announced in due course (probably around 19/20 February), but we’ll have to wait and see.

Rest assured, if there is any more news, I’ll write another riveting article on the subject, which should help pass a whole 5 minutes of any ongoing lockdown.

If you have any queries arising from this article, or would like to suggest a topic for a future article, please contact Chris Drinkall on 01482 337367 or Chris can also be followed on Twitter at @drinkall_chris and on LinkedIn.

Posted on: 12/01/2021

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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