December 05, 2021

Coronavirus: Tenants fear being made homeless by end of June when temporary eviction ban expires

June 05, 2020

Tenants across the UK fear they could be made homeless at the end of the month when the government's temporary ban on eviction expires, a renters' union has warned.

The government introduced a three-month ban on landlords evicting their tenants when the UK went into lockdown in March.

But with the moratorium on evictions expiring on 25 June, renters who have struggled to pay their bills during the coronavirus outbreak are scared of losing their homes, according to the London Renters' Union (LRU).

Eight million people in the UK live in rented accommodation, with a study by Citizens Advice suggesting 2.6 million private renters will have eventually missed payments because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The charity fears tenants are on a "cliff edge", which could see them fall into long-term debt or homelessness if the eviction ban is not extended.

Housing ministers have proposed trying to arrange flexible arrears repayment plans instead of cases going to court, but no details have been released yet.

The LRU fears landlords will start using Section 21 of the housing act again - otherwise known as "no fault" repossessions, which are the most common way of evicting tenants - when the temporary ban is lifted.

Aaron, 38, works for the NHS in London as well as being an LRU organiser, but has seen his household income fall dramatically during lockdown.

He said: "We've not been paying rent for months, so we can afford the basics. And of course the veiled threats of eviction from our landlord began quickly, despite evictions supposedly being illegal right now.

"It's been really horribly stressful and I'm dreading the end of the month."

But the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) claims only one in 10 tenants have been unable to pay their rent because of the virus.

John Stewart, deputy director for policy and research, told Sky News a further extension of the ban would be "very difficult" for some landlords.

He said: "For landlords who rely solely on rent for their household income, they could fall behind on their mortgage and the property might be repossessed.

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"The government messaging has been clear that if you can pay your rent you should continue to do so. So an extension would just be pushing the problem further down the line."

He added that landlords need the right to evict tenants for anti-social behaviour or putting their co-tenants at risk by refusing to abide by handwashing and social distancing rules.

Landlords also have to give three-months' notice if they want to evict tenants, he said.

Sky News understands ministers are due to issue an update in the next week, but a government spokesman said it has taken "unprecedented" action to support renters during the pandemic.

They added: "We have increased the Local Housing Allowance rates so they cover the lowest 30% of market rents and from April around 900,000 people across the UK saw their Housing Benefit rise.

"We will continue to carefully consider the next steps on how best to support tenants and landlords to ensure fairness in the rental market."

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