Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 - Motion for an humble Address

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:03 pm on 23rd September 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Altmann Baroness Altmann Conservative 2:03 pm, 23rd September 2020

My Lords, the Government are absolutely right not to continue the blanket ban on repossessions. After six months, when many landlords have struggled without any government help, with tenants who have already not been paying rent since before lockdown or who are damaging the property and behaving violently, is it really right effectively to force landlords to continue to provide free social housing even to problem tenants, costing private individuals thousands of pounds? These are not rich tycoons: just under half rent out only one property. Many are pensioners relying on rent for their retirement security. A balance must be struck between protecting tenants affected by Covid and enabling a property owner to recover their losses—or, indeed, to move into their own property on return from military service or working abroad when they would otherwise be legally barred from doing so.

The Motion of the noble Baroness, Lady Grender, to annul this statutory instrument, as my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach explained, would be against the conventions of our House. It would also cause chaos around the country and would damage the availability of private rented accommodation, which will be needed so much in future. There are protections for tenants, and the prioritisation of the courts will focus on anti-social or violent tenants, squatters, fraudsters and those with arrears that already go back more than one year. Homelessness is a dreadful problem; the Government must get to grips with it. I support the calls from around the House for emergency funding to support landlords and tenants where they face such problems in the current emergency. However, this blanket ban on repossessions does not seem like natural justice.