Ban on landlords evicting tenants set to end
By David Wood | 21st August 2020
A five-month ban on landlords evicting tenants in England and Wales ends this weekend.
Since March, the government has suspended the enforcement of repossession orders and barred bailiffs from visiting people's homes.
However, this Sunday (August 23) both of these protections expire. This will leave people behind on their rent at the risk of eviction and those behind on bills, especially council tax, at risk of having the bailiffs knocking on their door.
From Monday, courts will start hearing cases put on hold owing to the coronavirus crisis.
Stricter rules will be in place, but in Scotland and Northern Ireland bans are planned to be extended until March.
Renters have argued the financial and practical effects of the crisis mean they should not be thrown out.
Tenants are getting a minimum of three months' notice of eviction in England and six months in Wales, until at least 30 September, compared with two months before the coronavirus outbreak.
Only after this notice period is up can the courts hear a case. During the ban, eviction notices have been served but court decisions have been put on hold.
Citizens Advice fears that many of those now in debt may never escape it. People who sought help with debt since March this year will need, on average, two and half years to pay back their current priority debts, which include household bills.
A statement said: "A lasting legacy of coronavirus debt would be harmful for people affected. The existing insolvency mechanisms would be slow, difficult to deliver and have damaging effects on their long-term financial situation, including impacting on credit scores.
"Citizens Advice also fears that businesses, landlords and councils might face the prospect of being saddled with a mountain of unrecoverable debts that could affect their own viability. This, along with reduced consumer spending as people pay down debt, could hamper the wider economic recovery."
The charity says people in debt because of coronavirus need urgent financial support in order to deliver on the Prime Minister's pledge to 'build back better'.
Citizens Advice is calling for one-off or time-limited financial support for arrears built up because of coronavirus, with the cost of relief shared fairly between government, creditors, and individuals. This would be tailored to each sector but could include grants, payment matching or government-backed loans.
Advice for tenants:
- Anyone under threat of eviction should start gathering evidence such as receipts for rent paid or any communications with your landlord
- Landlords have to give you notice before they can apply to court for a possession order. For most tenancy types this notice must now be at least three months in England or six in Wales, but lodgers may get less notice
- If a possession order had already been made against you before 27 March 2020, then your landlord may apply for this to be enforced when the ban comes to an end. You should receive 14 days' notice of the eviction date
- Anyone now struggling to pay rent should speak to their landlord, and organise a repayment plan to pay off arrears
- Those receiving housing benefit or Universal Credit and unable to pay rent might be able to get a discretionary housing payment from the local council
Source: Citizens Advice
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