The eviction ban, brought in to protect renters during the Covid-19 outbreak, ends this weekend. The government is now under pressure from opposition parties and renters action groups to keep the ban in place beyond 23 August, with the London Renters Union planning a day of action demanding the government acts to protect tenants.
However, as we have said in this blog before, many landlords rely on rental income for their livelihood. New figures from the National Residential Landlords Association prove the point. Just-published independent research shows that 44% of those who let rental property entered the market to contribute to their pension and 39% report a gross non-rental income of less than £20,000 a year. In addition 94% of landlords are individuals not large lettings companies and they have unlimited liability should their businesses fail.
The NRLA told Landlord Today, that it is wrong to assume that every tenant that has built up rent arrears because of COVID-19 will automatically be at risk of eviction. We agree – and we also support the NLA’s call to avoid what they describe as “unnecessary scaremongering”.
In order to soften the blow for renters, in July new rules around possessions came into force which landlords need to be aware of. Here’s a reminder.
- Until September 30 a minimum of three months’ notice must be given to tenants if landlords wish to seek possession. This is to give more time for payment arrangements to be agreed.
- Once the ban is lifted, anyone with a possession claim that was already in progress must provide a written ‘re-activation notice’ to the court and the tenant – otherwise the case will remain dormant.
- For claims involving non-payment of rent, landlords are obliged to provide information on the tenant’s circumstances, including how they have been impacted by the pandemic. If this is not forthcoming, the case could be adjourned.
- Priority will be given by the courts to possession cases based on serious pre-lockdown arrears and those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic violence.
To read the new rules on possession, click here.
Finally, don’t forget that we always advise landlords who are facing problems to engage with their tenants at the earliest possible stage and try and find ways to help them deal with rent arrears. Do contact us for help if this is proving difficult as we have extensive experience in the rentals market and may be able to offer some useful advice.
So with only a few days left until the ban is lifted, the big question remains whether or not Westminster gives in to demands to extend it further in England. In Scotland the moratorium is expected to be left in place until March 2021 and in Wales ministers have announced a six-month notice period for evictions. Following the U-turn on exams earlier this week, anything could happen, so both landlords and tenants will just have to wait and see. Watch this space!
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