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Government to Put the Brakes on Evictions Already in the System

The UK is a very different place since coronavirus struck. Businesses have gone bust and a lot of people are out of work. The government has been forced to put pull a few rabbits out of the hat to ty and prevent economic catastrophe. These measures have included plans to help landlords and people living in the private rental sector.

There is now a three-month ban on evictions, to prevent renters from being made homeless when they are self-isolating or caring for vulnerable loved ones. However, this ban didn’t cover any evictions already moving through the courts.

Shelter Puts Pressure on the Government

Now, thanks to pressure from housing charities such as Shelter, the government has suspended all “all ongoing housing possession action”. The suspension will last for 90 days but the government may decide to extend it if it looks like lockdown needs to be continued to flatten the coronavirus curve.

The ban on repossessions will save around 20k people from being made homeless. However, housing charities are concerned that some landlords are ignoring the ban on evictions and asking vulnerable tenants to leave. If a tenant is unaware of their rights, they might choose to go, even they cannot be forced out.

Illegal Evictions

Shelter is warning landlords that issuing an eviction notice or locking a tenant out of their rental home is illegal. Landlords must wait three months before they evict a tenant, even if that tenant is guilty of anti-social behaviour.

When a repossession order is already in the system and a tenant is waiting to be evicted, they have a 90-day respite. They should continue paying their rent where possible or talk to the landlord about a payment plan if money is tight. The government says the court will let tenants and landlords know when a new hearing has been scheduled, but given the number of people self-isolating, there is likely to be a significant backlog of cases for many months to come.

Many tenants are struggling to pay their rent. One housing charity is asking the government to suspend rents completely in the private sector, so tenants don’t build up huge arrears. It claims many tenants are being forced to work, even though they should be self-isolating, simply to earn enough money to pay the rent.

Tenants Must Still Pay Their Rent Says Government

“As the government’s recent guidance clearly states, tenants are still legally obliged to pay rent and landlords are still able to issue eviction notices to renters who enter into rent debt,” says Robert Jenrick from the London Renters Union.

“The eviction process will begin as soon as the temporary ban on evictions is lifted.”

Tenants having trouble paying their rent can apply for Universal Credit. The Local Housing Allowance component has been increased so it’s more in line with local market rents and claimants no longer have to wait five weeks to apply.

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