The government has announced that the ban on evictions in England will end from June 1, sparking fears that thousands of families will be facing homelessness next month.
The ban, introduced at the start of the pandemic, prevented landlords from sending bailiffs to evict tenants, as well as obliging them to give six months’ notice for repossession of the property.
Though extended several times throughout the past year, the ban is set to end at the end of May, with notice periods reduced to four months and bailiffs given license to resume evictions.
The government says it is taking a ‘phased approach’ to easing the emergency measure, with notice periods expected to return to pre-pandemic levels from October 1, subject to progress with the current roadmap.
With hundreds of thousands of private renters currently in rent arrears as a result of the pandemic, the move to end the ban has been met with alarm by housing experts and public committees, who fear a wave of evictions looming in June.
A recent report from the House of Commons housing, communities and local government committee noted the end of the ban had been “a looming cliff edge for the duration of the pandemic”, expressing concern that the government is “waiting until there is a clear crisis before intervening, rather than … taking proactive action to protect people.”
Alicia Kennedy, Director of renter’s advocacy group, Generation Rent, warned that, without intervention “thousands of homeless families could be turning to their council for help.”
She noted that 353,000 private renters are currently in arrears, with “no plan to clear their debts” from the government.
“We can’t build back better without financial support for the renters who have been hit hardest.”
Housing Minister, Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said of the move:
“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented action to protect renters and help keep them in their homes.
As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the Roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.”
He added that “crucial financial support also remains in place including the furlough scheme and uplift to Universal Credit”.
Generation Rent, however, have called on the government for further financial support to be made available through a “Covid Rent Debt Fund”:
"The Government must introduce a Covid Rent Debt Fund, allowing renters to clear their debts and landlords to claim for up to 80% of income lost”, Kennedy said.