The eviction ban in England and Wales preventing landlords from evicting tenants during the coronavirus pandemic has ended, meaning thousands of people could now face losing their homes.
The ban officially lifted on Sunday September 20, meaning Monday 21 is the day county courts will start processing possession claims.
Because of how the court works, plus the rules around giving renters advance notice of their hearing, the charity Shelter says it doesn’t expect renters to actually be evicted by bailiffs until October – but it’s best to get prepared now.
“The shocking scale of our housing emergency and lack of social homes has been brutally exposed by the pandemic,” Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter tells HuffPost UK. “Millions of renters rely on expensive, insecure private rentals because they have no alternative.
“And now, more than 300,000 private renters have been plunged into rent arrears since the pandemic hit, leaving many at risk of losing their homes.”
Some MPs, including Labour’s Bell Ribeiro-Addy, have questioned why the government has extended the eviction ban on commercial business until the end of 2020, but has not done the same for people’s homes.
“If the government is intent on lifting the evictions ban, it must give struggling renters emergency funds to clear Covid arrears and stay in their homes,” adds Neate. “It must also use its autumn Spending Review to seriously ramp up efforts to build more social homes, and fast. Because that is the ultimate answer to the housing crisis.”
We asked Shelter to explain the renting rights you need to know if you’re worried about being evicted.
How much notice do landlords have to give?
This depends on your tenancy type. For most renters, if you’re served notice after August 29 2020, you will receive six months’ notice. If you don’t leave at the end of the six months, your landlord can apply to court.
How much notice you’re entitled to depends on when you were served.
Section 21 Eviction Notice:
Pre-March 26 = two months’ notice
March 26- August 28 = three months’ notice
August 29 - March 30 2021 = six months’ notice.
Ground 8 Eviction Notice - Rent arrears over eight weeks
Pre-March 26 = two weeks’ notice
March 26 - August 28 = three months’ notice
August 29 - March 30 2021 = Six months’ notice (if under six months arrears). Four weeks’ notice (if over six months arrears).
What are your rights if you want to stay in your rented home?
You don’t legally have to leave your home until your landlord obtains a bailiff warrant. If you don’t leave at the end of your notice period, your landlord must apply to court for a possession order, and then a bailiff warrant. If your landlord tries to evict you before obtaining a warrant, this could be an illegal eviction and you should seek urgent advice.
There are some exceptions to this rule, like if you are a lodger living in your landlord’s home. Anyone who is worried about losing their home can get in touch with one of Shelter’s expert advisers through the free webchat service or emergency helpline, which is open 365 days a year.
If you’ve been struggling to make your rental payments, what should you do next?
The first thing you should do is speak to your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible, as they may be willing to agree a repayment plan, reduced rent or accept a late payment. If you can, it may help to let them know what measures you are taking to deal with the situation, too. Just be sure to get the details of any rent agreement in writing.
There’s a template letter tool on Shelter’s website to help people negotiate a rent reduction. Some people may also be able to claim benefits like Universal Credit to help with housing costs, so if you’re struggling don’t be afraid to find out what your options are.