Government’s New Stance On Rental Arrears
The majority of housing lawyers have been highly critical of the ‘watering down’ of the continued evictions ban; however, one real estate solicitor says that many landlords will very much appreciate what is seen as ‘a more balanced threshold’ regarding rental arrears.
The recent Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s announcement of extending the bailiff evictions ban until 21st February which is more than likely to be further extended, except for the most serious of cases
Within days of the new legislation being published a housing solicitor Giles Peaker highlighted the fact the new rules now means that possession cases can go ahead for cases of tenants accruing 6 months rental arrears rather than the previous nine months. This is also another positive that the amount of rental arrears must be at the date of the possession order and there is no stipulation that arrears after the 23rd March cannot be counted.
The Housing Law Practitioners Association is urging the MHCLG to re-evaluate and make significant changes to the ‘watered down’ ban.
An estate solicitor of a national firm, believes that landlords ‘should’ welcome the new changes.
Cohen said: ‘In the previous regulations, the substantial rent arrears exemption only applied where there were nine months’ arrears on or before 23 March 2020, which is extremely limited (if there were nine months’ arrears before 23 March 2020, they would now be at 18 months). Many landlords are suffering severe hardship by rent arrears levels significantly below that figure, and six months appears to be a more balanced threshold.’
He added: ‘Whether or not bailiffs will actually carry out evictions during lockdown is another matter. We have heard instances of bailiff officers implementing their own policies not to carry out evictions in a period of lockdown. There is also the question of how a bailiff deals with a situation where they attend a property for an eviction, and the tenant claims to be self-isolating. Presumably, the eviction could not be carried out. However, it is hoped that bailiffs will proceed with evictions in accordance with the regulations if they can do so safely.’