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Extension to eviction ban and changes to substantial arrears

Extension to eviction ban and changes to substantial arrears

Further extension to eviction ban and changes to substantial arrears

Further changes to the government’s COVID eviction laws were announced on Friday night and have attracted a mixed response.

Will Bartley, Landlord & Tenant specialist, who has been keeping you up to date will all developments in eviction law throughout the pandemic, breaks down the announcement and give you everything you need to know.

What are the latest changes to COVID eviction laws?

There are two main changes that will affect landlords and tenants that were announced on Friday 8th January.

  1. The ban on County Court bailiff evictions was extended for six weeks.
  2. The rules on evictions for historical rent arrears were changed.

When has the eviction ban been extended to?

The ban on evictions has been in place in one format or another since March 23rd, and has been extended several times, usually following the extension of furlough or lockdown measures.

The ban on bailiff evictions was due to expire today (Monday 11th January), but has now been extended for six weeks.

The ban on bailiff evictions will now end on Monday 21st February in England, although this is of course subject to further extension at the Government’s discretion.

When are evictions permitted during COVID?

From September, evictions have been permitted for a handful of reasons, including domestic abuse, antisocial behaviour and substantial rent arrears. I wrote about these in more detail in a previous article that you can read here.

The other big change announced on Friday was to substantial rent arrears.

What are substantial rent arrears?

Since September, landlords have been allowed to enforce possession Orders with the County Court Bailiffs against tenants with more than nine months’ rent arrears. The stipulation was that these arrears had to be accumulated BEFORE the first lock down was announced on 23rd March.

The aim was to ensure that tenants who had lost their jobs during the pandemic were protected from being made homeless.

The new legislation changes the definition of substantial arrears and will mean that many more people could potentially face enforcement of possession Orders by the Bailiffs.

So, what constitutes substantial arrears now?

Substantial arrears now means at least six months’ rent, and rent accrued since the start of the pandemic is no longer excluded.

This means, essentially, that tenants who were up to date with rent payments; but lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and have been unable to pay rent could now be evicted.

This means that any tenant with a possession Order against them who owes 6 or more months’ worth of rent arrears can now face lawful eviction from their property by the Court bailiffs.

How have the changes to COVID eviction laws been received?

Landlords will not have been surprised by the further extension to the ban on evictions. The government has extended the ban several times already and the NRLA were expecting a further extension once stricter lockdown measures were announced earlier this month.

Shelter welcomed the extension to the ban on evictions, however the news of the changes to the rules on evictions for substantial rent arrears has drawn criticism from many.

The Independent accused the government of ‘sneaking a cruel new loophole into the eviction ban’, and the London Renters’ Union said the government should be ashamed.

However, this will no doubt bring peace of mind to landlords who have obtained a possession Order and have been without rental payments for over half a year.

Specialist landlord & tenant lawyers

If you are unsure whether your tenancy situation now means you could face eviction, or you are a landlord looking to obtain or enforce a possession Order, please feel free to call us and get advice on this ever-changing area of law.

Landlord & tenant solicitors in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and The New Forest

If you wish for us to assist you with eviction related enquiries, including drafting and issuing proceedings or eviction notices, please feel free to contact us on 01202 499255.

We offer all new clients a free initial chat with one of our bright, friendly lawyers over the phone or by video call.

Related landlord & tenant articles

Will Bartley is one of our bright lawyers in our specialist dispute resolution team. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, he has been keeping landlords and tenants up to date with changes in guidance and legislation. 

You may find the following articles useful if you are affected by any of the issues  outlined in this article.

When will the coronavirus ban on evictions end?

Extension to ban on evictions due to coronavirus

Does the Stamp Duty holiday apply to buy to let properties

Is your rented accommodation fit for purpose? What is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018? 

What is the UK Renters Reform Bill and Lifetime Deposit Scheme?