The three-month outright eviction ban pledged to renters last week appears to have been watered down in the Coronavirus Emergency Bill passed by Parliament, 24housing reported earlier today.
Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said last week: “The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to Coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.”
But Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey, said the new Coronavirus bill goes back on that vow.
Despite Jenrick’s statement that no renter would be forced out of their home, and the ensuring widespread belief that evictions had been banned, the official policy announced six days ago was that private tenants would not be evicted from their homes for at least three months.
At the time, Jenrick also said: “Emergency legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.”
Dame Gillian Guy, CEO of Citizens Advice, said: “Simply extending notice periods to three months cannot be seen as ‘job done’. It means that people dealing with unimaginable financial uncertainty still face the prospect of being served with an eviction notice.”
Jenrick has since taken to Twitter to defend the Bill, stating that highly misleading comments have been made about governments commitment to suspending rental evictions.
In a thread of Tweets, he said: “There can be no evictions as a result of Coronavirus for 3 months – as promised – and we’ve got the power to extend this if we need to.
“We are extending all notices, regardless of the type of eviction, to three months. This means tenants will have 3 months relief from any proceedings starting – mirroring the mortgage relief we are giving to landlords.”
He added that as renters might suffer financial hardship at different points this applies on a rolling basis – “so for anyone experiencing issues later down the line, they will be protected for three months.”
“The very clear guidance that we have given to judges and bailiffs also means that it is extremely unlikely that any possession proceedings will continue during this period”, Jenrick said.
“We are keeping these measures under constant review and will be guided by the evidence. The govt is clear – no renter who has lost income due to Coronavirus will be forced out of their home.”
1. Some highly misleading comments have been made about our commitment to suspend rental evictions during this national emergency.
There can be no evictions as a result of #Coronavirus for 3 months – as promised – and we’ve got the power to extend this if we need to.
— Robert Jenrick (@RobertJenrick) March 24, 2020
As reported by 24housing, HCLG committee chair Clive Betts has called for clarity over Coronavirus renter protection as MHCLG and its critics accuse each other of issuing “misleading information”.