Renters face eviction despite extension to ban for shops and restaurants until March 2022

RENTERS still fear losing their homes after landlords were given the go-ahead to resume evictions – but the ban on business removals has been extended.

The ban on residential evictions came to an end on May 31, meaning bailiffs can now repossess properties with as little as four months' notice, down from six months.

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However, this week the government extended the block on commercial landlords evicting retail and hospitality tenants to March 25 2022 over fears of business failures.

Sue Anderson, from debt advice charity StepChange, said: “The rental eviction suspension was the last lifeline for many renters, who have been among the groups worst hit by the pandemic."

She added: “The extension of the ban on evictions for commercial tenants shows the government understands things are not back to normal for the country just yet – we need to see the same attention paid to those struggling in the rented housing sector.”

The government banned residential evictions during the coronavirus pandemic to help tenants who were struggling financially.

What to do if you’re served an eviction notice

THOUSANDS of renters are fearing eviction after landlords were given the green light to resume proceedings – housing charity Shelter has shared its top tips for tenants…

From June 1,notice periods for most private renters in England will be reduced from six to four months.

However, you could be given just four weeks’ notice if you have more than four months’ rent arrears – and little or no notice if you’re facing eviction for antisocial behaviour.    

  • For any private renters facing eviction, the evictions process takes time and landlords must still follow proper procedures, such as giving tenants written notice. It’s only when that notice period expires that a landlord can apply to the courts to evict them.   
  • Making a start can make all the difference. Any private renter worried about their housing situation can contact Shelter for free, expert advice 365 days a year – throughits emergency helpline, webchat service or dedicated private renting advice webpage. To get started, please visit www.shelter.org.uk/get_help  
  • Respond to letters and phone calls: it’s natural to want to keep your head down and hope your renting worries will go away but it’s important to read everything your landlord or letting agent sends you. Keep a record of every letter and phone call.      
  • If you are struggling to pay your rent, speak to your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. They may be willing to agree a repayment plan, reduced rent or accept a late payment. Just be sure to get the details of any agreement in writing.     
  • Find out about extra support. You may be able to claim Universal Credit to help with your housing costs. To find out what benefits you might be entitled to, you can use this benefits calculator, and Shelter also has an online guide to Universal Credit. 

According to StepChange, the number of tenants that have fallen behind on rent payments has doubled during the pandemic to 460,000.

Bailiffs are now able to repossess residential properties – and landlords no longer have to give tenants six months' notice before starting eviction proceedings.

They will have to give four months notice for evictions, until August 1 when it will be reduced to two months.

Research published last month showed that 850,000 Brits feared losing their homes as the ban on tenant evictions was scrapped.

If you're a private tenant, your landlord can ask you to move out using either a Section 21 or Section 8 notice.

A Section 21 notice is commonly referred to as a "no-fault eviction" as landlords don't have to give a reason for wanting you to leave.

With a Section 8 notice, landlords must have grounds for kicking you out, such as falling behind on rent, property damage or neighbours complaints.

Polly Neate, chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, said: “Unless the government acts, the end of the evictions ban risks putting thousands of struggling renters on the path to homelessness. 

“Longer four-month notice periods, while they last, will give some tenants valuable time to make a backup plan. But for others this will just delay the inevitable.

What is the section 21 rule and what are your rights as a renter?

THE law – known as Section 21 – means a landlord can ask you to move out without needing a particular reason.

  • The first step of every procedure is the section 21 notice – a letter of notification that the landlord must serve to the tenant, prior to the eviction. The notice to quit is purely informational and doesn’t carry any legal power.
  • If you’ve got a good relationship with your landlord, it might be worth asking them if you can stay in your home for longer. Send a letter to your landlord explaining your situation and keep a copy of any reply you get.
  • Your landlord can’t make you leave your home unless they’ve gone to court to get a possession order and a warrant for eviction.
  • You might be able to challenge your eviction and stay in your home.
  • A section 8 notice can require you to move sooner, but can only be served if the landlord has a reason, such as you breaking the terms of your tenancy.
  • New rules introduced in October 2015 have made it harder to evict you for reporting problems with the property.
  • If you’re asked to leave because you’ve asked for repairs then you should see advice immediately.
  • You can find more tips on how to challenge your eviction on Citizens Advice.

"And come September, when notice periods are due to be shortened yet again, anyone facing eviction will have just weeks to try find somewhere else to live."

She added: “Renters have been badly hit by job losses, falling incomes and rising debts in this pandemic – and the government needs to do more to help them keep hold of their homes. 

"It should give those tenants worst affected a financial lifeline to help them clear crippling Covid debts before it’s too late."

Landlords said the end of the ban means "action can be taken against those committing anti-social behaviour who blight the lives of neighbours and fellow tenants alike."

But a spokesperson for the National Residential Landlords association said: "We want to see tenancies sustained wherever possible and call on the Chancellor to step in and provide affected tenants with the financial support they need to pay off rent arrears built as a result of the pandemic.”

The Sun has contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities &
Local Government for comment.

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