The government has announced that the current suspension on possession proceedings is to be extended until 23 August 2020.
In the announcement made last night, Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic. Today, I am announcing that the government’s ban on evictions will be extended for another 2 months. That takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of 5 months.
Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.
We are also working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions proceedings do recommence, arrangements, including rules, are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding.
The further two month extension will start from 25 June 2020. The suspension also includes any ongoing appeals in respect of possession.
The COVID-19 and renting guidance for for landlords, tenants and local authorities is to be updated to incorporate the changes but at the time of writing hasn’t been updated yet.
The announcement also confirms that new rules are being worked on which could include changes to the Housing Act 1988 making possession for rent arrears only possible if the arrears were not as a result of the pandemic. Proposals are that if arrears did accrue due to the pandemic, then possession may not be awarded. It’s not known at this stage if any new rules will affect section 21 for which no reason for requiring possession is given.
Ministers are also working with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements, including new rules, which will mean that courts are better able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties, including those shielding from coronavirus. This is to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need.