The government has confirmed a six-week extension to the current evictions ban, now due to end on 31 March.
However, many private renters and private landlords have criticised this latest extension for failing to tackle the issue at its core.
Exemptions remain in place for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords – as well as other residents and neighbours – such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour, and arrears of six months’ rent or more.
Landlords are also required to give six-month notice periods to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the most serious circumstances, meaning most renters now served notice can stay in their homes till at least August 2021.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We have taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic including introducing a six-month notice period and financial support to help those struggling to pay their rent.
“By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time.
“Our measures strike the right balance between protecting tenants and enabling landlords to exercise their right to justice.”
The previous ban was due to end on 21 February.
Responding to the announcement, many within the sector expressed their desire for the government to do more to protect both renters and landlords.
Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “It is right that the eviction ban is being renewed while the country remains in lockdown.
“It would be dangerous to allow people to be made homeless when everyone else is being told to stay at home.
“But courts are still approving eviction claims where the landlord doesn’t need a reason, despite the government’s promise to prioritise only ‘the most egregious cases’.
“That means a cliff-edge for renters who are facing eviction because their landlord is selling up or whose reduced income doesn’t cover the rent.
“We need a COVID Rent Debt Fund to clear the debts of renters whose incomes have been hit by the lockdown, but the government must also suspend ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions so blameless renters don’t lose their homes as a result of the pandemic.”
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Today’s announcement does nothing to help over 800,000 private renters who have built rent arrears since lockdown measures started last year.
“It means debts will continue to mount to the point where they have no hope of paying them off. It will lead eventually to them having to leave their home and face serious damage to their credit scores.
“The government needs to get a grip and do something about the debt crisis renters and landlords are now facing.
“A package of hardship loans and grants is needed as a matter of urgency. To expect landlords and tenants simply to muddle through without further support is a strategy that has passed its sell-by date.”
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