With one month left before the measures protecting private renters from evictions expire, Citizens Advice has warned that government must act now to prevent people from losing their homes.
The temporary pause on evictions implemented by Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to ensure “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home” will come to an end on 25 June.
Citizens Advice has warned that this presents a cliff-edge that will pitch some renters into long-term debt or homelessness.
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, it reported that more than 1,000 related to possible eviction, despite the government’s protections.
Additional protections recommended by Citizens Advice 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 from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has endorsed these recommendations.
It is 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.
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. ”