Coronavirus: Government urged to reintroduce eviction ban as England prepares to enter second lockdown

‘Government needs to move again to make sure no-one is forced out of their home this winter by banning evictions nationwide’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 02 November 2020 17:35 GMT
(AFP via Getty Images)

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Ministers are facing demands to reintroduce the eviction moratorium for renters as England prepares to enter a month-long lockdown in response to a second wave of coronavirus.

It comes after the ban – first brought in at the onset of the pandemic – expired in September, allowing court proceedings to once again resume despite pressure for an extension from opposition parties and charities.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said when it ended the ban that evictions will not be enforced in areas where local lockdowns have been imposed, and announced a “truce on enforcement” over the Christmas period.

It also extended the notice period landlords must give to tenants to six months in England, but this did not include those who had already been served eviction notices before September.

Since Boris Johnson’s decision on Saturday to reimpose a national lockdown, however, there has been no clarity for renters whether these provisions for local lockdowns will be extended across the country, or whether the government will reintroduce the ban.

Labour’s shadow housing secretary Thangam Debbonaire, told The Independent that renters “can’t afford any more delay”, adding: “There are already hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing their homes. 

"The government must urgently reinstate the evictions ban, as well as the ban on repossessions to protect homeowners.

“The government should re-assert their clear promise that nobody should lose their home because of coronavirus, and put forward a credible plan to keep it.”

Polly Neate, the chief executive of charity Shelter, added: “During the first national lockdown we saw how many families were terrified that they would face eviction and homelessness during the pandemic. The government’s eviction ban meant that many could stay safe in their homes.

“With England set to enter another national lockdown and Covid cases on the rise, the government needs to move again to make sure no-one is forced out of their home this winter by banning evictions nationwide. It is simply too dangerous to allow more people to become homeless now.”

Campaigners and charities have previously called on the government to ban no-fault evictions under Section 21 of the Housing Act, which allows landlords to evict tenants without reason by giving tenants notice to vacate the property.

The commitment to scrap Section 21 formed part of the Conservatives’ election manifesto, but speaking in the Commons in September, housing minister Christopher Pincher, said: “We will do that at the appropriate time when there is a sensible and stable economic and social terrain on which to do it.”

On Monday, Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, highlighted steps to extend the mortgage payment holiday scheme, which was due to end on 31 October, to help individuals facing financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic.

Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate for mayor of London, added: “Renters need the same protection for their homes. Where is the eviction ban and arrears forgiveness scheme that million need now?”  

A Government spokesperson said: “We have taken unprecedented measures to protect tenants during the pandemic and these remain in place.

“Landlords must give 6 months’ notice for all but the most serious eviction cases - such as those involving domestic abuse - and we’ve taken action to prevent people getting into financial hardship by helping businesses to pay salaries, extending the furlough scheme, and boosting the welfare safety net by over £9 billion. We keep these measures under constant review.”

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