Eviction bans extended
By World Infrastructure Journal-
Bailiff enforced evictions banned until 31st May while the commercial evictions ban has been extended for a further three months, to 30th June.
Announced by Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Housing Secretary, he explained that the bans put in place during the pandemic will be extended to provide further support to businesses and renters.
As part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, hospitality will be unable to reopen before 17th May at the earliest. This poses a significant challenge to businesses who have been unable to operate but have had to continue to pay rent for their premises.
By extending the eviction ban on commercial premises, it is hoped this will add a support layer to businesses as they begin trading again.
Similarly, residential tenant protections have also been extended as bailiff enforced evictions will cease until 31st May. Landlords will also have to continue to provide a six month notice period to tenants before they are evicted.
This will be for all residential properties except in serious circumstances such as fraud or domestic abuse.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) explained that 49 per cent of hospitality workers and 36 per cent of those who work in retail currently rent their homes. As their jobs reopen they said “this will ensure residents in both the private and social sector can stay in their homes and have enough time to find alternative accommodation or support as we move through the roadmap."
The Housing Secretary said: “It is right that as we move through the roadmap, we ensure that businesses and renters continue to be supported.
We have taken unprecedented action to support both commercial and residential tenants throughout the pandemic – with a £280 billion economic package to keep businesses running and people in jobs and able to meet their outgoings, such as rent.
These measures build on the government’s action to provide financial support as restrictions are lifted over the coming months – extending the furlough scheme, business rates holiday and the Universal Credit uplift. ”
Is this enough?
As part of the announcement, MHCLG explained that the government has made £180 million of funding available and increased Local Housing Allowance rates to support renters with housing costs.
However, for many campaigners, renters are still at risk.
Ahead of the recent 2021 Budget, it was revealed that rent arrears had grown to £288 million during the pandemic. Many rent campaign groups called for monetary support from government to pay off rent debt but during the Budget, no financial measures were announced for renters.
In response to the eviction ban extension announcement, housing group Generation Rent director Alicia Kennedy said: "We need a Covid Rent Debt Fund to help renters who have been affected by the pandemic and left with debts they’re unable to pay. The Government must also bring forward the Renters Reform Bill and end ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions so blameless renters don’t lose their homes as a result of the pandemic. ”
Section 21 evictions mean that a landlord can repossess their property without fault by the tenant being established. A 2019 government proposal to abolish them did not lead to change and so is still a reality for many renters at risk of eviction through no fault of their own.
StepChange, a debt charity added on the eviction ban extension that: “The Government’s continued suspension of rental evictions until the end of May is a welcome step which will give renters affected by the pandemic vital time to get back on their feet.
However, renters are among the groups hit hardest by the pandemic, and many of those struggling have fallen well behind on their rent or resorted to borrowing to get by.
Without targeted financial support, many renters are at risk of losing their homes. We need urgent action to prevent homelessness, housing insecurity and long-term problem debt from taking hold when the newly extended suspension is lifted. ”
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter said simply that the announcement “will keep renters safe for now, but they won’t last forever. ”
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