Calls to extend the eviction ban in England and Wales are growing larger, with the government’s temporary ban on evictions ending on Monday. Many fear the current lockdown could result in more people finding themselves on the street if the ban is lifted.
The government first implemented the eviction ban in March when the first lockdown started. In addition to the eviction ban, the government also introduced extended the notice period landlords must give from three to six months. The measures aimed to ensure people don’t end up homeless because of the difficulties they might face due to the pandemic.
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The courts began clearing repossessions cases in September. However, a temporary ban was put in place, stopping bailiffs from enforcing possession orders between 11 December and 11 January. Charities are warning that a jump in evictions could be on the horizon if the extension is not extended.
Unemployment is rising, and Citizens Advice research suggests 500,000 tenants in the UK are behind on rent payments. Their research shows the average rent owned is over £700, with one in four private renters in arrears facing the threat of eviction or cancellation of their contract.
Labour and housing charities are calling for the ban to continue. Labour MP Clive Betts, the chair of the housing, communities and local government committee, told the BBC, “It is disappointing the government is again leaving it until the last minute to announce an inevitable extension to the evictions ban.”
Criticism towards the ban
The National Residential Landlords Association has been vocal about the problems with the ban. Ben Beadle, the chief executive of the association, said of the eviction ban, “[It] does not protect people in need, it ignores the real challenges households are facing and piles up more debts that will cast a long shadow over peoples’ futures.”
According to research by the London School of Economics, the number of people in arrears could potentially triple in 2021. However, a spike in formal evictions is unlikely.
The eviction process is slow, and tenants often have time to find alternative accommodation before evictions go through. It's more likely there will be a "slow burn" in eviction figures, creating a steady increase throughout the year.
However, charities are saying an end to the ban now would cause many short-term problems. Not only is it unsafe to start evicting people from their homes due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, but weather forecasts for the coming weeks are concerning. The Prime Minister has said the government is looking into the ban.