A BAN on evictions for renters has been extended by four weeks after warnings that thousands of tenants could lose their homes.
The government has confirmed an extension to the ban, which ends on Monday, until September 20.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Landlords will also have to give tenants six months notice if they wish to evict renters in England once the ban ends.
However, the new rules on notice period will not apply if there is a serious issue such as anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.
If tenants are unable to afford their rent then then they should speak to their landlord to agree a solution.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP, said: ““I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of COVID-19.
“That is why today I am announcing a further 4 week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for six months.
“I am also increasing protections for renters – six month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.”
Homelessness and debt charities as well as MPs have warned against ending the policy.
Research from debt charity StepChange shows around 590,000 tenants are in rent debt, with an average of £1,076 per household.
Meanwhile housing charity Shelter said 120,000 tenants in rent debt have already been issued an eviction notice – 175,000 of which have been threatened with eviction.
Today, 16 health organisations – including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and the London Renters Union – called for the ban to be extended to prevent a rise in Covid cases.
The ban, which stops landlords from kicking residents out of their homes if they fall behind on their payments, was introduced during lockdown and is set to end on August 24.
It was previously set to end in June but got extended by another two months to create “certainty and security” during the lockdown.
Consumer groups have welcomed the extension but warn that more helped is needed to protect renters.
Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We’d like to see funding for a dedicated set of protections, including measures such as grants for those in arrears due to coronavirus.
“This would not only directly help those affected, but also contribute towards consumer confidence and the economic recovery.”
“The government must use this short period of time to put proper safeguards in place for renters,” Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said.
Alicia Kennedy, director at Generation Rent, urged for a “long term plan to protect renters’ homes.”
Alex McMahon, a housing lawyer dealing with evictions at London law firm Osbornes Law, said: “…the law needs to be changed around evictions to prevent thousands of people being kicked out of their homes this winter.”
If you are a private tenant, a landlord can ask you to move out by issuing a Section 21 or Section 8 notice.
A Section 21 notice is commonly referred to as a “no-fault eviction” as landlords don’t need to give a reason for asking you to leave your home.
With a Section 8 notice, landlords have to have grounds for kicking you out.
Since the outbreak, the government has amended the two sections, which means that landlords must submit evidence about how their tenants’ circumstances may have been affected by coronavirus for a Section 21 notice, otherwise a hearing will be delayed.
For a Section 8, people have a three month notice period until September 30, 2020, if your were told by your landlord on or after March 26 2020. Before it was just two weeks.
But the National Residential Landlords Association said the extension “helps no-one”.
Ben Beadle, CEO of the NLA, said: ““A blanket extension is unacceptable, especially so close to the deadline.
Landlords have been left powerless in exercising their legal right to deal with significant arrears unrelated to Covid-19, antisocial behaviour and extremely disruptive tenants who make life miserable for their neighbours and housemates.
“Private landlords cannot be expected to foot the bill for government failure. There must now be a plan to support households to pay their bills and to compensate landlords fully for their lost income.”
The Sun has contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for comment.
Last month, landlords agreed three ways to help struggling tenants including rent reductions.
A survey found a third of renters on furlough are worried they won’t be able to pay rent when lockdown ends.
And from June, all tenants no longer had to pay certain fees towards landlords or agents.