Tenants to get four-month eviction notice periods from June

MHCLG has confirmed it will look to gradually reduce eviction restrictions as lockdown measures ease this year.

Tenants will be given four-month eviction notice periods from the start of June, when the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions will also be lifted, the government has confirmed.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) confirmed yesterday (12 May) that it will look to gradually reduce eviction restrictions as it progresses through its roadmap out of lockdown.

The current measures, including six-month notice periods and bans on bailiff evictions, were introduced as an emergency measure to protect renters at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting from 1 June, eviction notice periods will reduce to at least four months, ensuring that tenants stay protected through Step 3 and into Step 4 of the roadmap. Exceptions will remain in the most serious cases such as instances of anti-social behaviour.

As at least 14 days’ notice is required before any eviction, the government said it expects no evictions to take place before mid-June except in the most serious circumstances. Bailiffs will be asked not to evict anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

The housing minister Christopher Pincher MP said: “From the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented action to protect renters and help keep them in their homes.

“As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.

“Crucial financial support also remains in place including the furlough scheme and uplift to Universal Credit.”

The government said that subject to public health advice and progress with its roadmap, notice periods will return to the pre-pandemic level of two months from 1 October.

Financial support schemes to help hard-up renters, such as the furlough scheme and the Universal Credit uplift, will remain in place until the end of September, it added.

Earlier this week via the Queen’s Speech the government announced plans to publish a new White Paper this autumn setting out proposals for a fairer private rented sector.

The promised Renters’ Reform Bill includes proposals for the abolition of Section 21 “no fault” evictions to give tenants greater security, and a new “lifetime deposit” to make moving home easier for renters.

The National Housing Federation called the extension of longer notice periods beyond the end of May “positive”, while urging the government to extend the measure further.

“While lockdown is easing across the country, we know many tenants will feel the impact of the coronavirus crisis long into the future,” the NHF commented.

“That is why we are urging the government to consider extending longer notice periods beyond October rather than returning to the much shorter pre-pandemic notice periods.”

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association (LGA) expressed concerns about the end of the ban on eviction enforcement, warning that it could potentially lead to a rise in homelessness.

Cllr David Renard, the Local Government Association housing spokesperson, commented: “We recognise that the ban on eviction enforcement, which provided vital reassurance to renters during the pandemic, cannot continue indefinitely. However, councils remain concerned over the potential rise in homelessness households may face, and the pressure this will add to already over-stretched homelessness services.

“It is vital there is a plan in place to support and protect households to stay in their homes, in as many cases as possible.

“We look forward to working with government on the detail of the Renters’ Reforms package announced in the Queen’s Speech, to ensure that everyone can live in a safe and decent home, have access to a clear redress process and not live in fear of ‘no fault’ evictions, which government should now bring forward its pledge to end.”

Image credit: Needpix.

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