Government U-Turn Sees Eviction Ban Extended

In a dramatic last minute U-turn the Government has announced today (Friday 21st August) an extension of the Eviction Ban for a further 4 weeks.

With the ban due to expire on Monday in England and Wales, the Government received warnings that if the ban was not extended there was a huge possibility of people being left homeless around the festive seasonal period.

It was officially announced this afternoon that the stay on evictions has been extended until 20 September 2020, and there will be a new six-month notice period on any eviction notices served by landlords, providing a reprieve for tenants.

Law Society President Simon Davis said:

“Today, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced that it would be extending the stay on evictions for a further four weeks, until 20 September. However, tenants are still required to pay their rent and landlords are still able to serve a notice of eviction, with a new six-month notice period.”

“The government first brought in these measures on 26 March 2020, for an initial period of three months. The stay was then extended on 5 June until 24 August and has now been extended again so vulnerable tenants can get the help they need, and courts can continue to make the necessary arrangements.

“However, more needs to be done, including resolving the legal aid deserts currently preventing tenants in some areas from receiving legal advice and making wider legislative changes to prevent a spike in homelessness.”

Other industry experts commented on the Government’s last minute decision to extend the ban.

Timothy Douglas, Policy and Campaigns Manger, ARLA Propertymark comments on today’s extension to the eviction ban:

“Now that the ban on evictions has been extended, the government must use this time to introduce further guidance and prepare the sector. It is important to take steps back towards normality so that both landlords and tenants have access to the justice system, while putting measures in place to offer further support to tenants who have built up COVID-related arrears, and this four week extension will give government the time to introduce such measures.

“Additionally, given the backlog of cases already facing courts, it’s key that the government introduces sufficient guidance during this period to enable eviction proceedings to begin again smoothly and fairly when the ban is lifted.”

Alex McMahon, a housing lawyer dealing with evictions at London law firm Osbornes Law said:

“It is extraordinary that the government has made this extension to the evictions ban at the last minute and shows the shambolic way they have dealt with this issue. While many thousands of people facing eviction will be breathing a sigh of relief, this last ditch extension hardly fills me with confidence that the government has properly considered what to do about this pressing issue.

“The simple fact is that the law needs to be changed around evictions to prevent thousands of people being kicked out of their homes this winter. Under the current law, if a landlord relies on Ground 8 rule judges have no discretion over whether they grant possession orders if the tenant is two months or more in arrears. Judges need to be able to take into account the impact of coronavirus on housing cases, but at the moment they can’t. Section 21 ‘no fault’ cases also need to be abolished to protect tenants. I hope the government uses this month to take specialist advice about the true impact of evictions this winter and make changes in the law to prevent this from happening.”

At the end of March the Government brought about fundamental new measures to shield renters and landlords of the crippling effect of Covid-19. In order to protect renters, emergency legislation has ensued as an urgent priority, which saw a complete ban on evictions from social or private rented accommodation and added protection for renters, while the national pandemic took place.

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