Coronavirus: Government announces emergency legislation to stop all evictions

New eviction and possession proceedings will be banned for duration of national emergency

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
,Lizzy Buchan
Wednesday 18 March 2020 19:03 GMT

The government has announced emergency legislation to prevent private and social renters from being evicted from their homes during the coronavirus crisis.

Boris Johnson had been coming under intense pressure to help tenants after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a three-month mortgage holiday for home-owners on Tuesday.

Under the new legislation, all new evictions will be suspended and no new possession proceedings will be permitted during the period of national emergency.

To protect landlords, the mortgage repayment holiday will be extended to Buy-to-Let mortgages.

It comes as ministers were poised to introduce emergency legislation to combat the coronavirus outbreak, including sweeping powers for police to temporarily detain people suspected of carrying the virus.

The prime minister confirmed renters would be protected during a press conference at Downing Street, where he vowed that people would not be penalised for "doing the right thing" by staying at home during the outbreak.

Mr Johnson said: "We will want to protect people who face difficulties through no fault of their own.

"We cannot penalise people for doing the right thing, nor can we penalise people when you have an economic upset which is a direct result of the government’s actions, the government’s advice, which are intended to protect the public.

"Everybody who experiences that kind of dislocation, that kind of disruption, is entitled to protection and support.”

Labour has been pressing the government to protect lower-paid workers likely to be hit hardest by the coronavirus shut down, including renters who face being made homeless if they fall behind on their payments.

Announcing the move, Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said: "The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.

“These are extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage.

"Which is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.”

The news was welcomed by homelessness campaigners, who urged the government to ensure people were not left facing eviction notices once the pandemic is over.

Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at Crisis, said: “We appreciate that this needs to be a workable solution for renters and landlords, but would stress that any repayment plan must be affordable for tenants.

"If someone loses their job because of the outbreak and has no income coming in, they cannot be faced with intolerable levels of debt once these emergency measures are lifted.”

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords association, said: “Landlord groups welcomes government support.

"We recognise the exceptional circumstances and we will work collaboratively with government to ensure these measures protect both landlords and tenants."

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