Government hints at extending coronavirus evictions ban in latest U-turn

The restriction on landlords is due to end on Sunday if ministers do not intervene – potentially making 300,000 people homeless

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 21 August 2020 09:46
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The government has hinted that it could extend a ban on evictions brought in to protect tenants during the pandemic, amid warnings that its end is set to cause a wave of homelessness.

Asked whether the ban would be ending as planned at the weekend, a spokesperson for the ministry of housing said on Friday that the government would "make an announcement on the next steps shortly".

MPs and homelessness charities have campaigned against ending the policy, while landlord groups have lobbied hard to be able to evict tenants again.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said on Thursday that towns and cities faced "1930s-style homelessness" because of a "perfect storm" of economic conditions and government policy.

Representatives of the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Physicians and the Faculty of Public Health also separately warned that a major increase in homelessness could see a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

The Scottish government has extended its corresponding eviction ban until March 2021 to give tenants security, while the Welsh government has increased the notice period for evictions in the country to six months, giving people more time to prepare.

“The Government has taken unprecedented action to support renters, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries – meaning no tenants have been evicted at the height of the coronavirus pandemic," a spokesperson for the ministry of housing, communities, and local government said.

“We are working on how best to continue supporting renters and landlords during the pandemic and will make an announcement on the next steps shortly.”

The current ban is due to expire on Sunday, meaning an announcement would have to come on Friday or at the weekend to give tenants a last-minute reprieve.

The situation is complicated by the fact that parliament is now in recess, and changing the ban would require changes to legislation.

Almost 300,000 households are expected to be facing eviction if the ban ends on Sunday.

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