Will they – or won’t they? Thousands of landlords in England are waiting with bated breath to see if the government will indeed end the tenant eviction ban later this week on August 23.
The reason for the nervousness on behalf of buy to let landlords and other property owners is because the Scottish Government is voting this week on whether to extend the ban – to March 2020. The proposal is likely to go through.
Westminster has already done a U-turn on its exam results policy, following the Scottish decision to accept teacher’s results last week. Now those in the property market are wondering if they’ll go down the same road with the eviction ban.
Welsh Government to pay tenants’ rent
The Welsh Government has already extended the ban. But this is in a way that landlords won’t miss out on rent; the government will pay it on behalf of tenants who can’t afford it. The Scottish Government, however, haven’t come up with similar proposals, leaving landlords confused north of the border. Many are panicking that they will be forced to pay the rent on behalf of their tenants.
Homelessness charity Shelter claimed victory for the eviction ban extension in Scotland. Now Generation Rent are campaigning on behalf of English tenants.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has already asked the government to increase benefit levels to ensure these will cover rents. He also wants judges to have the power to ‘throw out’ eviction cases caused by Covid-19.
Around 180,000 Londoners in PRS in arrears
His remarks come on the back of research by YouGov which reckoned nearly 180,000 of London’s 2.2 million adults in private rented accommodation are behind with their rent. Another 374,000 worry it’ll happen to them soon too. Shelter say more than 170,000 people have already been threatened with eviction.
The National Residential Landlords Association are calling for a tenant loan scheme to help pay off rent arrears which have accumulated during the coronavirus.
Westminster making amendments for eviction cases
During the pandemic Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick promised to keep a roof over the head of tenants who couldn’t pay their rent due to coronavirus. The ban was originally for three months and then extended a further two months. Now the Westminster Government says it is amending court procedures to ensure ‘cases are dealt with fairly.’
Some of the measures include landlords having to tell the court how their tenants were affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic. If an eviction hearing doesn’t have this information then the judge can suspend proceedings.
At the same time, temporary court buildings (referred to as Nightingale Courts’) are being set up to deal with the current backlog of court cases to allow evictions and other cases to be dealt with in a reasonable time scale.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The Government support package during the pandemic had helped prevent people getting into financial hardship or rent arrears.”
There was no mention of whether this would be extended past Sunday.