Renters have been protected during the coronavirus crisis by a ban on evictions, which was brought in in March and extended in June.
Now the Government has said the ban in England and Wales will be extended by another four weeks, until Sunday 20 September.
It has also announced that in England the notice period landlords must give before starting eviction proceedings will be extended from three to six months until at least 31 March 2021, to give tenants greater protection. In Wales, it is already six months.
The ban on evictions had already been extended until March 2021 in Northern Ireland and is set to be extended until then in Scotland. In Scotland, landlords must give six months’ notice, while in Northern Ireland it’s 12 weeks.
Tribunals have restarted in Scotland for those who received eviction notices for their properties before 7 April and for cases of anti-social behavior, after three months.
Earlier this summer the housing charity Shelter said that as many as 230,000 renters may have fallen into arrears during the pandemic and could be at risk of being evicted once the current ban on proceedings is lifted.
What should I do if I’m struggling to pay my rent?
If you’ll struggle to pay rent during the coronavirus outbreak, you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible to let them know your situation and work out a repayment plan. While in England and Wales you now can’t be evicted for another month, you can fall into arrears, so it’s important to talk to your landlord and let them know what’s happening.
The Government’s guidance is “encouraging tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme”. We’ve seen this guidance be interpreted in different ways though. While some landlords are proactively contacting tenants and reassuring them that they can work out new repayment arrangements if they suffer financial hardship, others are playing hardball, and not offering to make any adjustments.
If you’re struggling, also check to see if you’re receiving all the financial help you’re entitled to, which may include the universal credit benefit. Universal credit can include local housing allowance, which covers at least 30% of the lowest rents in your area. See our Coronavirus Universal Credit & Benefits guide for more info.
What does the Government say?
Housing Secretary Robert 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 behavior 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.”