Rented Homes: End of Evictions Ban

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:32 pm on 22nd July 2020.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 1:32 pm, 22nd July 2020

As the Government take steps in the next phase of the response to coronavirus, it is right that we consider how to transition from the emergency measures put in place in March in the face of the then imminent public health emergency. On 13 May, the Government took decisive steps to unlock the housing market, enabling people, whether they own or rent, to move home safely if they need to. The end of the pause on possession proceedings on 23 August is another important step towards more normal life resuming and to ensuring all people—landlords and tenants—have access to justice. Prioritising cases is a matter for the judiciary, but I consider it important that cases such as those of serious antisocial behaviour are heard again.

During this period, we are working to provide appropriate support to those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus when possession proceedings start again. As part of this, we have been engaging with a working group convened by the Master of the Rolls. An early outcome of the group’s work has been changes to the court rules of possession proceedings. These rules will apply within the current legislative framework from 23 August. They will require landlords seeking possession of their property to set out relevant information about a tenant’s circumstances, including information on the effect of the pandemic. This encourages landlords to have the right conversations with tenants before seeking repossession. Through guidance, we are also encouraging landlords to agree to rent repayment plans or rent flexibilities, where possible. Landlords will need to follow strict procedures if they want to gain possession of their property. This includes, until at least 30 September, giving tenants a minimum of three months’ notice of their intention to seek possession, as set out in the measures introduced in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The Government have provided unprecedented financial support to renters through the job retention scheme, boosting the welfare safety net by more than £9 billion and increasing the local housing allowance rate to the 30th percentile. These measures will remain in place when the courts reopen. We are also committed to bringing forward reforms to provide greater security to tenants, alongside strengthening the rights of landlords who need to gain possession of their property when they have a valid reason to do so. Legislation will be brought forward in due course.