Further extension on ban on evictions and mediation pilot announced

On 14 February, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a further extension to the ban on bailiff evictions in order to ‘continue to support renters during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions’.

The initial ban on evictions was introduced at the start of the pandemic, and after a so-called ‘Christmas-truce’ and previous extensions which pushed the end date to 22 February, the new extension will now be in place until 31 March. The UK Government has said that again, the measures will be kept under review in line with the latest public health advice.

Eviction exemptions

Exemptions remain in place for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords as well as other residents and neighbours, these include:

  • illegal occupation
  • false statement
  • anti-social behaviour
  • where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant
  • extreme rent arrears

Notice periods

Landlords are also required to give six-month notice periods to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the most serious circumstances, meaning that most renters now served notice can stay in the property until at least August 2021.

Financial support for tenants

Councils also have access to an existing £180 million of funding through Discretionary Housing Payments which can be distributed to renters to support them with their housing costs.

Court proceedings

The Court rules and procedures introduced in September will remain in place and regularly reviewed, with courts continuing to prioritise the most cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and perpetrators of domestic abuse.

New mediation pilot

The UK Government also launched a free mediation pilot to support landlords and tenants to resolve disputes before a formal court hearing takes place. The new service offers mediation as part of the possession process to try and help landlords and tenants reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes.

Resolving disputes through mediation will enable the courts to prioritise urgent cases and will help resolve issues more quickly without the need for a formal hearing.