To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021, what impact assessment was carried out prior to the decision to change the definition of substantial rent arrears from nine months’ arrears at the date on which the order for possession was granted and which pre-date 23 March 2020, to six months’ arrears at the date on which the order for possession was granted.
We decided to redefine the definition of substantial rent arrears to rent arrears of more than six months in order to balance the effect of ongoing restrictions on the enforcement of evictions on landlords with the need to continue to protect tenants.
As a result of measures taken in response to the pandemic, we assess that the majority of cases which will fulfil the criteria of this exemption will involve rent arrears that pre-date 23 March 2020. In these cases, landlords may have been waiting over a year without rent being paid.
Measures taken include a requirement for landlords to give tenants longer notice periods before starting possession proceedings in most cases, and the six month stay on possession proceedings in the courts which ended on 21 September 2020. We have also taken into account the amount of time it takes for a case to reach the enforcement stage and the new arrangements that have been put in place in the courts to deal with the resumption of possession proceedings.