Eviction ban extended to August, Housing Secretary announces

5 June 2020, 18:47

The government's ban on evictions was due to expire at the end of June
The government's ban on evictions was due to expire at the end of June. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Evictions from social and private rented accommodation will be banned for another two months, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.

The government's extension comes less than three weeks before the measure was set to expire at the end of the month and after renters were warned they could face "disaster".

"We are suspending evictions from social & private rented accommodation by a further two months," Mr Jenrick tweeted.

"Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus."

The extension was agreed by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee at the request of the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.

Mr Buckland said it will give people "invaluable security in these turbulent times" and said work continues to ensure renters are protected after the ban ends.

Mr Jenrick said: "We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic. Today, I am announcing that the Government's ban on evictions will be extended for another two months. That takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months."

Labour MP for East Hull Karl Turner responded to the news, saying, "should think so," and accused the housing minister of being "dragged kicking and screaming" into making the decision.

Another Labour MP, Matt Western, Warwick and Leamington, said it was "the right thing to do."

Sian Berry, the Green candidate for Mayor of London and co-leader of the party, said it was "about time" and "should have been announced weeks ago."

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it is working on new court rules "to ensure vulnerable renters can be protected appropriately" when the measure expires in August.

Shelter, a UK housing and homelessness charity, responded to the announcement, saying: "This pause just buys renters time. The clock is still ticking.

"It’s critical that Robert Jenrick uses this extension wisely to change the law and properly protect renters from #CoronavirusEvictions."

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Chief executive Polly Neate said: “The government has reset the clock on the evictions ban, buying the families who were only weeks away from losing their homes, a vital stay of execution.

"But it’s only a stop-gap. The ban hasn’t stopped people who’ve lost their jobs during this pandemic from racking up rent arrears.

"Even if they have a plan to pay them back, these debts will throw struggling renters straight back into the firing line of an automatic eviction as soon as the ban does lift.

"It’s critical that Robert Jenrick uses this extension wisely to change the law and properly protect renters.

"Judges must be given the power to stop people losing their homes because of coronavirus, otherwise the country will face a tidal wave of homelessness after the end of August.

"Sooner or later, the government has to stop kicking the can down the road."

In a separate post on the charity's campaign page, a spokesperson wrote: "If Housing Minister Robert Jenrick ends his temporary eviction ban, we will see a wave of unfair evictions that could lead to more homelessness.

"The coronavirus outbreak has lifted the lid on our failing, unaccountable, and expensive renting system.

"Renters are among the hardest hit by the pandemic gripping the country. Some 1.7 million are worried they will lose their jobs and face the prospect of not being able to pay the rent. Under current laws, they could also lose their home.

"The government brought in some protections for renters, but Universal Credit won't cover most people's rent – and the current pause on evictions ends on 23 August.

"Right now, tenants are falling into debt because of coronavirus – and if the government doesn't act now, these renters could be evicted once the ban ends."

Hannah Gousy, the head of policy and campaigns at Crisis, a UK homeless charity, added: "Very welcome news from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Robert Jenrick that evictions will be banned for a further two months."

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