The government has announced further protection for renters across England and Wales after new evictions were extended until August.
Earlier this year, with many renters facing uncertain or reduced incomes, emergency legislation was announced which prevented landlords evicting tenants.
Hayley Wharton of WHN offers an update on where landlords and tenants now stand.
What has changed?
The government’s moratorium on evictions will now last a total of five months, ending on August 23 – eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until this date.
This unprecedented action has been taken in order to ensure that ‘judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions’ and that ‘the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need.’
The government has reiterated that landlords and tenants should work together to look at alternative options to evictions so cases only end up in court as a last resort. Options could include a flexible payment plan.
Recent weeks have seen the housing market given a boost with moving once again permitted, and the government’s aim is to ultimately transition out of these measures by the end of August.
Can a landlord still seek a possession notice?
Technically a landlord can still serve a notice seeking possession, giving tenants three months’ notice under the rules of the Coronavirus Act, and then issue proceedings. The information we have so far tells us that the stay in eviction proceedings should be lifted by the time the notice expires – unless the rules are changed again.
It’s important to remember though, that there will be a significant backlog of cases waiting to be heard by the court once the end of August arrives, and even then it is likely coronavirus restrictions of some sort will still be in place, placing added pressure on the system. This will of course impact on the time it takes a landlord to obtain a possession order.
The government has made clear that all possible options should have been exhausted before this point is reached.
What can a landlord do if a tenant is struggling to pay rent?
While the rule changes offer significant protection to tenants, the struggles are likely to be passed onto landlords.
This is why other measures have been introduced in recent months – such as extending mortgage payment holidays to include landlords.
The key is early communication – landlords and tenants should keep in dialogue to explore solutions that work for both parties. This could include additional time to pay or perhaps paying in instalments.
If issues cannot be worked out, advice should be taken in the correct way to begin an eviction. The process is a complex one and must be done correctly or risk being judged unlawful.
For further advice on the eviction ban, or any other landlord and tenant law matter, call Hayley Wharton on 0161 761 8062 or email her at email@example.com