Eviction Ban End in Sight: Government Announces Changes to Bailiffs and Notice Periods

eviction ban

The government has announced plans to end the eviction ban. This includes bringing back bailiff-enforced evictions and reducing notice periods from the beginning of June.

Bailiff enforcement and eviction ban

On Wednesday 12 May, Housing Minister Christopher Pincher approved changes to eviction legislation that will restart bailiff enforcement from 1 June.

Many were concerned that the ban on bailiff enforcement would continue in anticipation of the financial repercussions of the furlough scheme ending, but pressure from the NRLA has set an end date of 31 May.

In their latest press release, the government reported that 45% of private landlords own just one property, making them extremely vulnerable to rent arrears. With many eviction cases predating the beginning of the pandemic, the news is a relief to many landlords trying to reclaim their property.

Notice periods

From 1 June, eviction notice periods will be reduced to four months. Notice periods were set to six months last year, but the government hopes to bring this to an end by 1 October.

This staggered approach intends to protect renters as the country moves out of lockdown. Housing Minister, Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said:

From the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented action to protect renters and help keep them in their homes.

As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the Roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.

Crucial financial support also remains in place including the furlough scheme and uplift to Universal Credit.

Read more: 11 Changes Landlords Can Expect From 2021

Eviction ban: Notice period rules and exemptions

Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving fraud or anti-social behaviour. Many evictions waiting to be enforced when the ban lifts are from before the pandemic.

Although the notice periods are changing on 1 June, for the most serious cases they will remain lower:

  • Anti-social behaviour (immediate to 4 weeks’ notice)
  • Domestic abuse in the social sector (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
  • False statement (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
  • Over 4 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice)
  • Breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (2 weeks’ notice)
  • Death of a tenant (2 months’ notice)

Notice periods for cases with four or more months’ unpaid rent will reduce to two months’ notice from 1 August. This is to support both landlords and tenants and responds to the greater difference between COVID and pre- COVID notice periods for rent arrears.

14 days’ notice is required before an eviction can take place. No evictions are expected to occur before mid-June, except in the most serious circumstances. Bailiffs will also not carry out an eviction if they have been made aware that anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

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Additional support for renters

Renters will continue to be supported with living costs, including rent, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until 30 September 2021.

Local Housing Allowance rates are being maintained at their increased level in cash terms and the government has extended the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit until the end of September.

£140 million in Discretionary Housing Payments funding will also be available for local authorities this financial year for those requiring additional help.

What does the future hold for evictions and Section 21?

Section 21 notices will be included in the relaxation of restrictions. It was expected that the reintroduction of the evictions process would include mandatory grounds only, not the ‘no fault’ grounds that Section 21 notices enable.

Earlier this week, the government announced that a White Paper will be published in the autumn to create a fairer private rented sector that works for both landlords and tenants. First mentioned in the Queen’s Speech last year, the progress of the Renter’s Reform Bill was delayed due to the pandemic.

It’s expected to include the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to give tenants greater security, as well as ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposits and a government database of rogue landlords and property agents.

What are your thoughts?

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of NRLA, says: “Having operated under emergency conditions for over a year, this is an important step in ensuring the sector’s recovery.

“It does nothing though to address the rent debt crisis. With the number of private tenants in arrears having increased threefold since lockdown measures started, more are at risk of losing their homes as restrictions ease. 

Jonathan Daines, CEO and Founder of LettingaProperty.com, commented: “Having an end in sight for the eviction ban will come as a big relief for landlords and agents alike.

It’s great to see that tenant protection will still be prioritised as the country transitions out of lockdown, whilst those landlords that have been worst affected can finally get back to business as usual.

How do you feel about the Eviction Ban plan and coming Renters’ Reform Bill later this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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