Citizens Advice has urged the government to extend its measures to protect private renters from evictions before proceedings expire. The charity says that the Government has just one month to act before existing measures end.
Citizens Advice is warning this presents a ‘cliff edge’ that will pitch some renters into long-term debt or homelessness. The charity says the government must act now to prevent larger-scale problems and save people from losing their homes.
Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government previously said that ‘no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home’, before announcing a temporary pause on repossession action. This pause is currently scheduled to end on 25th June.
Research by the charity earlier this month suggested that 2.6 million private renters had already missed, or expected to miss, a rent payment because of coronavirus.
In the two months since lockdown began, Citizens Advice has helped over 10,000 people with issues around the private rented sector. Of these, over 1,000 of their issues related to possible eviction, despite the government’s protections.
The charity is calling for additional protections for renters vulnerable to eviction because of coronavirus. These include:
Accelerating the process to end section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions
Putting in place temporary changes allowing the courts more discretion for tenants in arrears because of coronavirus
When these measures are in place, implementing a ‘pre-action protocol’ of steps that landlords must follow before they can bring possession proceedings.
A report out today (22 May 2020) from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has endorsed these recommendations. It’s calling for the abolition of section 21 evictions and greater discretion for judges to prevent possession action where arrears have built up owing to Covid-19. If implemented, these changes should give the pre-action protocol the necessary ‘teeth’.
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said “There’s just one month to go before the protections that were put in place to protect renters from eviction during the coronavirus outbreak run out.”
“In the midst of this pandemic, it’s not right that renters should face the looming threat of eviction. With millions of people out of work and millions more on reduced incomes, it is a real struggle for many people to pay their rent.”
“The government said no one should be forced out of their home because of coronavirus. It’s now time to stand by that promise and protect renters from the prospect of long-term debt or homelessness.”