CIEH welcomes ban on evictions during lockdown

12 January 2021, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has welcomed announcements from governments across the UK that the ban on evictions for private renters will be extended.  

On Friday last week, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, announced the bailiff ban will be extended to 21 February in England, whilst governments in Scotland and Wales have announced bans on evictions until the end of March.

CIEH is a member of the Renters Reform Coalition, advocating for security of tenure and the right to live in a safe and healthy home for all renters. The Coalition called for a pause to all evictions during the current national lockdown to give renters similar protections to the ban to evictions during the first lockdown. 

According to Citizens Advice, over half a million private tenants in the UK are behind with their rent, with 58% of these not in arrears last February, before the pandemic hit people's jobs and finances.

The UK Government has changed the law in England to ensure bailiffs do not enforce evictions for six weeks, with no evictions expected until 8 March at the earliest. However, this will be kept under review.

The only exceptions to the evictions ban covering serious issues such as anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation, death of a tenant where the property is unoccupied, fraud, perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing, and extreme rent arrears equivalent to 6 months’ rent.

CIEH is calling for a package of measures to help tenants struggling to pay their rent or repay existing arrears if the latest ban on evictions is not followed by large numbers of evictions once lockdown is lifted. 

Tamara Sandoul, Housing Policy Lead at CIEH, said:

“Governments across the UK have made the right call to ban bailiffs from enforcing evictions during the current national lockdown. With infection rates soaring and government advisers predicting that the worst of this pandemic may yet be to come, it is absolutely right to prioritise keeping people at home and re-doubling efforts to house any rough sleepers.

However, it is important that evictions can continue in the most serious cases; anti-social behaviour can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of people living next to or with the perpetrators. Working from home has only made the impact of noise and other forms of anti-social behaviour much worse. 

This is especially the case in Houses in Multiple Occupation, where unrelated tenants are sharing accommodation and facilities.

However, the UK Government has also allowed evictions to continue where there are very large rent arrears of six months or more. With around half a million tenants in rent arrears, many of these are directly due to the pandemic. 

It is imperative that a credible plan to support renters and landlords in these situations by investing in debt management support is created. This is important to ensure that serious rent arrears built up now do not result in large scale evictions once lockdown lifts.”

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