Jenrick announces ‘complete moratorium on evictions’ after government climbdown

After criticism from the sector on the apparent evictions ban announced last week, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed all evictions will be suspended.

Robert Jenrick has bowed to concerns from the sector to completely ban evictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

After the previous announcement that vowed to do the same, it was highlighted that renters could still get evicted if their case was already in the system, meaning some 20,000 people could have been evicted during the Coronavirus outbreak.

However, a new government document shows it has sought to go further.

It says: “From 26th March 2020, landlords will have to give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy) – this means the landlord can’t apply to start the court process until after this period.

“This extended buffer period will apply in law until 30th September 2020 and both the end point and the three-month notice period can be extended if needed.

“This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, and all grounds of evictions. This includes possession of tenancies in the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996, and the Housing Act 1988.

“After three months, if the tenant has not moved a landlord needs to apply to court in order to proceed.”

But importantly, the addition was around ongoing housing possession action.

The government said: “From 27th March 2020, following a decision by the Master of the Rolls with the Lord Chancellors agreement, the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in the or any about to go in the system can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted.

“This suspension of housing possessions action will initially last for 90 days, but this can be extended if needed.

“This measure will protect all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licences covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This will apply to both England and Wales.

“Tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual. If they face financial hardship and struggle to pay this, support is available.

“In the first instance, they should speak to their landlord if they think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment, and in this unique context we would encourage tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent-payment scheme.”

As part of the document, the government added that despite the Coronavirus outbreak, “landlords remain legally obligated to ensure properties meet the required standard – urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made.

“An agreement for non-urgent repairs to be done later should be made between tenants and landlords. Local authorities are also encouraged to take a pragmatic, risk-based approach to enforcement.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “We’re very glad to see the government has changed its approach and is now introducing a full ban on evictions, giving much-needed protection for renters at this critical time.

“Robert Jenrick should take a lot of credit for having listened and taken further action – as a result many thousands of people can now stay safe in their homes.

“For the past few weeks, our advisers and lawyers have been helping desperate people with looming evictions. We’ve heard from NHS staff and key workers who faced losing their home imminently, who told us they didn’t know how they would keep a roof over their heads.

“Now that we know courts will not take forward any evictions, it is crucial that renters know that they are protected and that they can stay put.

“Even if they do receive an eviction notice, they should not feel pressured to leave whilst this crisis is ongoing.”

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