PRS braces for end to 14-month long evictions ban

On 20th March 2020 LandlordZONE exclusively broke the news that the first county courts were moving to suspend evictions.

Reel forward 14 months and that ban is now due to end on Tuesday when bailiffs will once again be able to execute possession warrants and the courts system will restart in earnest.

But it’s not going to be that simple. For technical reasons most evictions will not restart for another two weeks after that and landlords will still have to give four months’ notice of an eviction, down from six.

Nevertheless, for the many landlords enduring financial problems as they have waited to evict tenants, there is light at the end of the tunnel – after several false starts.

Sherrelle Collman, MD of Caridon Landlord Solutions (pictured), says: “This is good news for landlords, particularly those who have cases trapped in the court system and therefore have been many months without rental income. 

“However, landlords must appreciate there is a significant backlog which cannot be cleared overnight.

“We also acknowledge that this change will be concerning for many tenants, but the ban on evictions had to come to an end at some point, just as lockdown had to and furlough will.”

Shelter says the government must take urgent action to protect renters against the imminent threat of eviction and homelessness with a package of emergency financial aid.

But to protect renters long-term, Shelter says the government must address the structural failings of the private rental system through its forthcoming renting reform measures.

Nowhere to go

polly shelter

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter (pictured), says:The lifting of the eviction ban signals the beginning of the end for many renters facing homelessness. Thousands of people will wake up on the 1st of June knowing they’ll soon be kicked out of their home, with nowhere to go.”

Her comments are echoed by the Joseph Rowntree Federation, which is calling for a targeted package of grants to support renters in arrears, administered through the existing Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) system.

“The £180m currently available through DHPs this year is nowhere near sufficient to support the 450,000 renters in arrears,” it says.

“A boost to DHP payments, together with improved guidance and ring-fenced funding for arrears, would be sufficient to re-set the housing market and enable renters to recover economically at pace with the rest of the country.”

Another pressing issue the government just tackle is the backlog of some 11,000 possession cases that must now be actioned by county courts.

Court caseload

“We have a large number of cases at Landlord Action in courts all across England and Wales that have been on hold while our landlords have had to wait for bailiffs to be able to start working again,” says its Legal Director Tim Frome (pictured).

“Due to the volumes of cases to deal with it is likely that cases in the city courts are likely to be more delayed than those in rural areas.

“We will know very soon how long the different courts are going to take in scheduling the bailiff appointments.  

“It must be noted that dealing with the backlog will be in addition to the bailiffs being instructed on new cases that are progressing through the courts. The new processes put in place last year have delayed the length of time it takes to complete all possession cases.”

Easing

Timothy Douglas, (pictured) Policy and Campaigns Manager, at Propertymark, says: “Since January bailiffs have been able to act if a possession order confirms the tenant was in six months of rent arrears or it was granted on anti-social behaviour grounds.

“The easing of restrictions today will be welcomed by many in the private rented sector, particularly by those landlords who have been personally affected by the pandemic and have been unable to regain possession of their property.

“The UK Government must not underestimate the support that letting agents have provided to landlords and tenants throughout the pandemic. This support has been crucial in helping to sustain tenancies and must be reflected in future decision making.”

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