Eviction orders are being issued to private tenants who have run up rent arrears because of the pandemic. This comes despite the government’s promise that no one would lose their home due to coronavirus.
The ban, introduced to protect renters during the pandemic, has been extended until the end of March. Under the ban, nobody could be made homeless if they had lost their income due to coronavirus.
After pressure from landlords though, government ministers introduced new loopholes.
As of January, anyone with rent arrears over six months can be evicted – even if it was accrued during the pandemic. Before, debt had to have built up over nine months or more, not including the start of the first lockdown.
Figures show eviction attempts by landlords doubled during the winter lockdown. More than 500 households were forced out by county court bailiffs.
Ian Cory, welfare reform manager at Aster Housing Group, told Quids in!: “Tenants of local councils, housing associations and other social landlords can be reassured that eviction will always be a last resort and as long as tenants are talking and engaging with their landlords then eviction is very unlikely.
“So that we can help our customers, we need to understand their situation, so my plea to all tenants in arrears is to talk to your landlord, take up their offers of support, work with them to maximise your income and come to an arrangement to pay your rent and your arrears. Our experience is that what might seem like a difficult conversation at the time will often give us all the best outcome in the end.”
The government is now being accused of breaking its promise to renters. There have been repeated calls to strengthen the ban.