Exactly what the ban extension means to agents and tenants

The Law Society has set out exactly what the extension of the eviction ban, announced on Friday, means to agents, landlords and tenants.

The society says:

– Courts are neither hearing nor progressing applications for possession orders made by landlords before March 24;

– This applies to all private or social housing tenancies as well as licenses falling under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977;

– The stay applies to England and Wales;

– There are exceptions: these include applications for possession against trespassers and applications for case management directions which have been agreed by all parties;

– Schedule 29 Coronavirus Act 2020 also remains in force until September 30. Under this Act, landlords must provide tenants with a notice period of six months when issuing a notice seeking possession;

– Tenants are still obliged to pay rent during this period. If they are unable to do so, the government encourages open and honest conversations between the landlord and tenant about the tenant’s ability to pay rent.

And here is the government announcement in full, as released mid-afternoon on Friday:

Renters affected by coronavirus will continue to be protected after the government extended the ban on evictions for another 4 weeks, meaning in total no legal evictions will have taken place for 6 months, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced today (21 August 2020).

The government also intends to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March.

The government will keep these measures under review with decisions guided by the latest public health advice.

When courts do resume eviction hearings they will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, ensuring landlords are able to progress the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as where landlords have not received rent for over a year and would otherwise face unmanageable debts.

The government has taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries – meaning no tenants have been evicted since the start.

As a result, according to independent research, 87% of tenants have continued to pay full rent since the start of the pandemic, with a further 8% agreeing reduced fees with their landlords.

The vast majority of landlords have shown understanding and leadership, taking action to support tenants.

With coronavirus still posing an ongoing risk to public health, the government will continue to take action where necessary to further protect households in both the private and social rented sector are supported over winter, helping to keep them safe.

Today’s extension to the stay and 6 month notice periods will ensure those most at risk are protected. If tenants are unable to afford their rent we encourage them to speak to their landlord to agree a solution, and some households may decide to consider moving.

Government will continue to work with the judiciary and stakeholders to ensure that the courts are prepared for eviction cases to be heard safely.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP 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 4 week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for 6 months.

“I am also increasing protections for renters – 6 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 behaviour 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.”

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