Eviction freeze end: Government to close scheme – when can landlords evict tenants?

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The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the country, with a number of people losing their jobs or experiencing a drop in income for months. The Government introduced the eviction freeze as some form of relief for tenants who were unable to pay the rent, knowing they cannot be evicted. However, homeless charity Shelter reports that since the coronavirus lockdown started, three percent of adult private renters, equivalent to 227,000 people, have fallen into rent arrears, causing concern for their future.

When can landlords evict tenants?

The scheme is due to end on Monday, August 24, putting thousands of people at risk of homelessness.

However, following public outcry, it is believed ministers will announce a 4-week extension to the scheme today, August 21.

It is understood the new end date for the eviction freeze will be September 20.

Renters have argued the financial and practical effects of the crisis mean they should not be paid out, as their rental arrears are through no fault of their own.

Tenants get a minimum eviction notice of three months in England, and six months in Wales, compared with two months before the pandemic.

Only after this period of notice is finished can the courts hear an eviction case.

Under previous circumstances, landlords could legally ask you to vacate the property by issuing a Section 21 or Section 8 notice.

However, as of June 2020, the Government advice now states landlords must submit evidence about how their tenants’ circumstance may have been affected by coronavirus.

If they do not, judges will be able to suspend the court proceedings until the details are presented.

In practical terms, this means thousands of eviction proceedings could be pushed back by months.

A spokesperson from charity Christians Against Poverty said: “The crisis is not over.

“For many people, especially those who were struggling financially before the crisis, it’s just beginning.”

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The District Councils Network (DCN) has estimated that up to 500,000 people could be at risk of eviction as they spend more than half of their income on private housing rent.

Health bodies have warned that homelessness or moves to overcrowded accommodation could risk higher number of coronavirus infections.

Citizens Advice warned that one in nine people had reported falling behind on household bills.

If the eviction does come to an end this weekend, the charity said “many of those struggling may face harsh enforcement”.

Shelter CEO Polly Neate said: “The Housing Secretary promised no one would lose their home because of coronavirus.

“But the financial chaos of COVID-19 means that many private renters are in danger of being evicted when the current ban lifts.

“Unless he acts now, he will break his promise, and put thousands of renters at risk of homelessness.

“The minute the eviction ban lifts, the 230,000 already behind with their rent could be up for automatic eviction if they have built up eight weeks worth of arrears.”

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