On Thursday 8th January, the government announced a 6-week extension to the existing ban on bailiff-enforced evictions.
The ban – brought in to support renters during the pandemic – continues to apply to all tenancies across England and Wales and will be reviewed again on 21st February 2021.
What does the ‘ban’ actually mean?
The government restrictions, originally introduced in September 2020, mean that any possession orders submitted to the court will not be enforced by bailiffs.
Bailiffs in England and Wales will not enter your property to evict a tenant, unless:
- Someone is living in the property illegally
- Your tenant has been involved in antisocial behaviour
- Your property is in England and your tenant gave you false information to get the tenancy (known as a ‘false statement’)
- Your property is in England and your tenant owes 6 or more months’ rent
Why has the ban been brought in?
The ban on bailiff eviction notices and enforcement was introduced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments as part of their COVID-19 protection measures for renters.
Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP has stated:
At the start of this pandemic we made sure that the most vulnerable in society were protected. This winter, we are continuing in this vein and redoubling our efforts to help those most in need..
We are also extending the ban on bailiff evictions – helping to protect the most vulnerable renters.Robert Jenrick MP, Communities Secretary
Will 6-month notice periods be extended too?
The six-month notice periods brought in last year as part of the Coronavirus Act 2020 are scheduled to end on March 31st 2021, but the ongoing national lockdown could mean an extension into the summer months at least.
Some circumstances are exempt from the six-month notice periods “because of the pressures they place on landlords, other tenants and local communities“. This includes anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, rioting and false statement.
If a tenant has built up more than six month’s of rent arrears, the minimum notice period is four weeks. For any rent arrears below six months, the notice period is six months.
Further information on eviction proceedings can be found here: GOV.UK Guidance for Landlords and Tenants: Notices Seeking Possession.
Scotland and Wales extend ban until March
Scottish Prime Minister Nichola Sturgeon confirmed that the eviction ban in Scotland will be extended for at least another two months. Originally ending on January 22nd, the ban will now continue until 31st March 2021.
Welsh Housing Minister Julie James also confirmed that evictions from social and private rented accommodation will be suspended until the 31st March 2021.
New mediation plan for landlords and renters
The government have also announced plans to launch a “mediation pilot” for landlords and renters in February.
The Ministry of Housing has stated that the new pilot will “further support landlords and renters who face court procedures and potential eviction from next month (February)”.
The full details of the pilot are yet to be revealed, but it is said to “offer mediation as part of the possession process to try and help landlords and tenants to reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes.”
It is hoped that the mediation will enable courts to prioritise urgent cases, supporting landlords and tenants in England and Wales to resolve issues quickly without the need for a formal hearing.
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