It was announced on Friday 8th January that eviction bans in England have been extended. Evictions could have started again on Monday 11th January, but the latest announcement means eviction notices will not be served for another six weeks.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said; “At the start of this pandemic we made sure that the most vulnerable in society were protected. This winter, we are continuing in this vein and redoubling our efforts to help those most in need. Our ongoing 'Everyone In' initiative is widely regarded as one of the most successful of its kind in the world, ensuring 33,000 people are safe in accommodation. We are now going further and focusing on GP registration of rough sleepers.”
A statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says: “A new mediation pilot will further support landlords and renters who face court procedures and potential eviction from next month (February). It will offer mediation as part of the possession process to try and help landlords and tenants to reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes. Helping to resolve disputes through mediation will?enable courts to prioritise urgent cases, supporting landlords and tenants to resolve issues quickly without the need for a formal hearing. The mediation pilot will work within the existing court arrangements in England and Wales.”
Opposition speaks out on the matter
Thangam Debbonaire, Labour's shadow housing secretary, said the UK government's response was "not good enough", and also said; “The virus is more rampant than ever before, yet the government action does not measure up to what was done in March.”
Harriet Protheroe Sultani, vice chair of campaign group Momentum, said; “Sadly, a six-week extension just isn’t good enough. We have around a million people currently in rental arrears and facing eviction in the middle of a pandemic. The ability of landlords to extract rent cannot be valued above the lives of working people. The ban needs to be extended and pandemic rent debt needs to be forgiven.”
NRLA has spoken out
Ben Beadle, the Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, NRLA, said; “The repossessions ban is a sticking plaster that will ultimately lead to more people losing their homes. Instead the government should recognise the crisis facing many tenants and take immediate action to enable them to pay their debts as is happening in Scotland and Wales. The objective should be to sustain tenancies in the long term and not just the short term.”
He also said that ministers were “doing more harm than good” through “repeatedly banning repossessions”, and his reasoning is that this will place more debt on tenants, on top of their existing arrears.
Anti-eviction campaigner Vicky Spratt responded to the news on Twitter. Vicky said the extension of the “bailiff enforced element” isn’t enough, and she has also called for a “ban on possession claims by landlords”.
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