Ban on evictions during Coronavirus Pandemic

Ban on evictions during pandemic

In these current unpreceded times, part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been to push emergency legislation through the Houses of Parliament in order to suspend evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place.

At present all existing possession claims currently going through courts have been affected and this includes any pre-existing court hearings and bailiff appointments.

The new ban has effectively impacted on new and existing possession claims and landlords will be prevented from issuing any new claims in order to evict tenants. As a result of these changes, tenants in rented accommodation will now effectively be protected for a period of 3 months.

Recently, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said:

“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.”

“These are extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage. Which is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.”

“These changes will protect all renters and private landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.”

Emergency legislation in the form of the Coronavirus Act 2020 has been enacted as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three month period. This could in effect see tenants failing to pay rent for a period of time particularly where tenants find themselves in a situation where they are unable to pay rent as a result of ill-health or self-isolation. By way of recognising the additional pressures the pandemic may subject landlords to, it has also been announced that payment holidays will be extended to buy to let mortgages if tenants cannot pay due to the coronavirus pandemic. This balancing exercise which the government are initiating will alleviate the pressure on landlords who will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves, and naturally no unnecessary pressure is then put on tenants as a result.

Once the current coronavirus threat falls away it will be expected that landlords and tenants are to come to an arrangement to make their deferred rent and mortgage payments. It may be that both landlord and tenants will try and agree a mutually agreeable repayment plan subject to the tenant’s financial circumstances. In order to complement this the current pre-action protocol on possession proceedings (which currently only applies to social tenancies) looks to be extended to private tenancies with a view of both landlord and tenants trying to resolve any dispute prior to the issue of a possession claim in the county court. Effectively this will compel landlords to engage with tenants prior to serving the requisite notice to evict and following this through with possession proceedings.

In the meantime Landlords are still able to serve eviction notices on their tenants pursuant to Section 21 and Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, however, under the Coronavirus Act 2020, a minimum of three months’ notice must now be given to tenants before Landlords are able to issue possession proceedings. This is a significant increase in respect of the Section 8 Notice as prior to the Coronavirus Act 2020, only two weeks’ notice was required where the Landlord sought to rely upon rent arrears (where arrears were two months or more where rent is paid monthly).

Landlord’s should also be aware that a new Form 6A (Section 21 Notice) and Section 8 Notice has been published to reflect the new changes.

If you would like advice in respect of your tenancy agreement then please get in contact with Dispute Resolution Solicitor Josh Millichamp by email, or call us on 0800 118 1500 to find out how we can help.  In the meantime, we've put together a list of common FAQs which might just provide the answer you need - you can download them here