Tenants behind on their rent could find themselves out on the street from Monday after the housing secretary announced the end of a ban on evictions.
Robert Jenrick introduced a rule at the start of the Covid pandemic which halted all hearings of possession cases as he championed that ‘no renter who lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home’.
Originally running until mid-August, it was extended by another four weeks to protect tenants who may have lost jobs as a result of the crisis, bringing its total length to half a year.
But now, six months later, the government will allow evictions to resume in England from Monday.
Robert Jenrick (pictured) introduced a ban at the start of the Covid pandemic which halted all hearings of possession cases as he championed that ‘no renter who lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home’
Alicia Kennedy, who has directed the campaign Generation Rent, told The Times: ‘Robert Jenrick has torn up his pledge to protect renters.
‘There is now nothing stopping tenants who have been given a Section 21 [eviction] notice from being forced out of their home.
‘Even renters in severe financial distress can only buy themselves an extra six weeks’ grace.
‘These new rules provide no comfort and do nothing to prevent hardship and homelessness.’
However, in announcing the extension of the ban last month, Mr Jenrick also said he wanted to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by making landlords provide six months’ notice.
That policy will run until at least the end of March and will apply to all cases except those raising serious issues such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.
UK courts can usually grant automatic eviction notices if a tenant falls eight weeks into rent arrears.
The ban on evictions has already been extended twice since March as figures from YouGov and Shelter suggest that 322,000 renters have fallen behind on their monthly payments due to the impact of the pandemic.
The government has instructed that bailiffs are still forbidden from evicting those in areas of local lockdown or in the run up to Christmas – apart from in exceptional circumstances.
Labour is also calling for a further extension of the ban similar to that seen in Scotland and Northern Ireland where renters will not face eviction until March 31.
Defending the decision, Mr Jenrick said it was ‘right that we strike a balance between protecting renters and ensuring landlords whose tenants have behaved in illegal or anti-social ways have access to justice’.
Last month, a tenant refused to move out of their Merseyside home and stopped paying rent, leaving the landlords homeless.
House owners Emma and Russell Burton, 41, are living with her parents in France after the tenant refused to leave, saying he will pay them back ‘when this is all over’.
The ban on evictions has already been extended twice as figures from YouGov and Shelter suggest that 322,000 private renters have fallen behind on their monthly payments due to the impact of the pandemic (stock image)
The family left their home in Newton-le-Willows in early 2019 for Qatar where Emma and Russell found work, and started renting out their home through a letting agency.
Within a few months they decided to return to the UK, but in December 2019 they said their tenants stopped paying their £800 rent and refused to leave the house – meaning they could not return.
A Government spokesperson said: ‘We’ve taken unprecedented action to support renters by banning evictions for six months, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries.
‘To help keep people in their homes over the winter months, we’ve changed the law to increase notice periods to six months and introduced a ‘winter truce’ on the enforcement of evictions for the first time.
‘In addition we have put in place a welfare safety net of nearly £9.3 billion and increased Local Housing Allowance rates to cover the lowest 30 per cent of market rents.’
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: ‘After a six month ban on repossessions it is important that landlords can start to take action to tackle the most serious cases.
‘This includes those where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence and situations where rent arrears were building before lockdown and have nothing to do with COVID-19.
The framework put in place by the judiciary and the Government largely strikes the right balance between the needs of landlords in such situations and those of tenants affected by the pandemic.
‘We continue to encourage landlords to work with their tenants to sustain tenancies wherever possible, making use of the guidance we have prepared. To support this the Government should follow the example of Scotland and Wales and develop a stronger financial package to help tenants to pay off rent arrears built since the lockdown started.
‘Ministers also need to address the crisis faced by those landlords who have rented their homes out whilst working elsewhere. The six months’ notice required in such circumstances freezes them out of accessing their own homes, effectively making them homeless.’
Misery for first-time buyers as mortgage firms demand a FIFTH of price of new home
First-time buyers are being asked to save at least 20 per cent for a deposit on a house as there are little deals for mortgages on the market.
In the past week, not one high street bank has offered mortgages for those with a 10 per cent deposit according to The Times.
Brokers have also warned that deals for those with a 15 per cent deposit are also disappearing as more than 300 of them have been pulled since January.
First-time buyers are being asked to save at least 20 per cent for a deposit on a house as mortgage deals for those with a 10 per cent deposit disappear
For those with smaller deposits there are only a small number of these deals available.
According to Moneyfacts, there are only 44 deals left for those with a 10 per cent deposit, but most have restrictive criteria.
David Hollingworth from the mortgage broker London & Country said that its already a ‘big ask to require a first-time buyer who has scrimped and saved to come up with a bigger deposit’.
This comes after Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday, which can save buyers up to £15,000.
Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday could save buyers up to £15,000, but first-time buyers are being asked to save at least 20 per cent for a mortgage
The Chancellor said he would immediately raise the threshold on stamp duty to £500,000 until March 31 2021.
The measure, which temporarily increases the ‘nil rate’ band of stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000, will reduce the average stamp duty bill for a main home from £4,500 to zero.
The Chancellor’s crucial coronavirus recovery package includes a six-month ‘holiday’ from paying the charge on most homes to kickstart the market.
However, economists voiced alarm at the idea that the move could be announced to the House of Commons, but not implemented until the Autumn.
Fears were raised that purchases would grind to a halt as people would simply wait in order save thousands of pounds.
But UK house prices hit a record high following a post-lockdown boom, with the average home now worth £245,747.
A newly-released report by Halifax said property prices were 5.2% higher than the same month a year earlier and property values were up by 1.6% month on month.
But with household incomes under pressure and job loss announcements mounting, the report said it is ‘highly unlikely’ that current levels of house price growth will be sustained.