MINISTERS have extended the ban on landlords evicting tenants in England until 20 September, following warnings that thousands could lose their homes reports the BBC.
From Monday, courts were due to resume cases paused for five months owing to the coronavirus crisis, under stricter rules.
Now they will remain on hold for a further four weeks.
In a letter to judges, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton said that, having expected the end of the ban on Sunday, the proposal had been of “an extremely unusual nature and timing” but would allow further work to be done to prepare for the ban to be lifted.
How evictions work
Tenants get a minimum of three months’ notice of eviction in England and six months in Wales, until at least 30 September, compared with two months before the coronavirus outbreak.
Only after this notice period is up could courts theoretically hear a case. In England and Wales, eviction notices have been served but court decisions have been put on hold for the past five months.
The government is now planning for courts to resume hearing cases in England on 20 September.
A survey by homelessness charity Shelter suggested that more than 170,000 private tenants have been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent, and 230,000 in England have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started.
Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “It is right for the government not to lift the ban when it risks exposing people to eviction and the threat of homelessness with no means of defence.
“The government must use this short window of time wisely to put proper safeguards in place for renters.”
Health bodies had warned that homelessness or moves to overcrowded accommodation could risk higher numbers of Covid-19 infections. Politicians have now called for more than the latest extension to the ban.
Labour’s leader, Mr Starmer, said “such a brief extension means there is a real risk that this will simply give renters a few more weeks to pack their bags”.
He said Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “stuck his head in the sand” for months, adding: “The ban should not be lifted until the government has a credible plan to ensure that no-one loses their home as a result of coronavirus.”
Advice for tenants
Anyone under threat of eviction should start gathering evidence such as receipts for rent paid or any communications with your landlord
Landlords have to give you notice before they can apply to court for a possession order. For most tenancy types this notice must now be at least three months in England or six in Wales, but lodgers may get less notice
If a possession order had already been made against you before 27 March 2020, then your landlord may apply for this to be enforced when the ban comes to an end. You should receive 14 days’ notice of the eviction date
Anyone now struggling to pay rent should speak to their landlord, and organise a repayment plan to pay off arrears
Those receiving housing benefit or Universal Credit and unable to pay rent might be able to get a discretionary housing payment from the local council