Renter eviction ban to finish at end of May

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A ban on rental property evictions enforced by bailiffs in England will end on 31 May, the government has confirmed.

The ban was brought in during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bailiffs were asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property had Covid-19 symptoms or was self-isolating.

The Ministry of Housing said renters will continue to be supported as national coronavirus restrictions ease.

Eviction notice periods - which were previously extended to six months as an emergency measure during the pandemic - will be set at four months from 1 June.

If lockdown restrictions ease as planned, notice periods will return to how they were before the pandemic from 1 October. In England, that's usually two months.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that 45% of private landlords own just one property and are highly vulnerable to rent arrears.

It added that there is still extensive financial support to help people meet their outgoings, including the furlough scheme and the Universal Credit uplift, which have both been extended until the end of September.

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said: "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.

Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: "Having operated under emergency conditions for over a year, today's announcement from the government is an important step in ensuring the sector's recovery."

But he said the rent debt crisis must be tackled, adding: "We want to see tenancies sustained wherever possible and call on the chancellor to step in and provide affected tenants with the financial support they need to pay off rent arrears built as a result of the pandemic."

Local Government Association housing spokesman David Renard said the eviction ban "cannot continue indefinitely".

"However, councils remain concerned over the potential rise in homelessness households may face, and the pressure this will add to already over-stretched homelessness services.

"It is vital there is a plan in place to support and protect households to stay in their homes, in as many cases as possible," he said.

In February, the Resolution Foundation said that almost half a million UK families were thought to have fallen behind on rent as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, called on the government to introduce a Covid "rent debt fund", to allowing tenants to clear debts and landlords to claim for lost income.

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