The government has doubled down on its insistence that the evictions ban will end from Monday as the move is an “important step” towards ending lockdown and “protect landlords’ important right to regain their property”.
Ministers have been urged to act to prevent a “homelessness crisis” with up to a quarter of a million people at risk when a ban on evictions is lifted.
The protection against evictions in England and Wales – aimed at preventing tenants losing their homes during the coronavirus crisis – expires on August 23.
But the Westminster government is refusing to budge, despite ministers in Scotland hinting at an extension north of the border.
In a response to a written parliamentary question, housing minister Lord Greenhalgh said courts beginning to process possession cases again was “an important step towards ending the lockdown and will protect landlords’ important right to regain their property”.
A Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government spokesperson has confirmed this remains the position.
They said: “The government has taken unprecedented action to support renters, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries – meaning no tenants have been forced from their home.
“We will give appropriate support to those particularly affected when proceedings start again and we have changed court rules so landlords need to provide more information about their tenants’ situation when seeking an eviction – with judges able to adjourn a case if they don’t.
“Legislation introduced in March requiring landlords to give all tenants three months’ notice will remain for possession cases, including section 21 evictions, until at least September 30.’’
Renters have for weeks been served eviction notices despite the government’s promise to protect people from a wave of homelessness.
In a letter to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire urged the government to act now “to avoid more chaos of its own making” when evictions are allowed to resume.
The shadow housing secretary asked what action he was taking “to prevent a self-made homelessness crisis at the worst possible moment, as the furlough scheme winds up and we face the risk of growing infections of coronavirus”.
Labour wants the abolition of Section 21 “no fault” evictions and reform of Section 8 evictions – where the terms of a tenancy have been broken – to protect people whose livelihoods have been hit by the pandemic.
Debbonaire said: “(Homelessness charity) Shelter estimates that nearly a quarter of a million people are at risk of eviction because of Covid economic impact.
“Veering from crisis to crisis is no way to run a country.
“After the incompetent handling of the exams fiasco, the Government must act now to avoid more chaos of its own making.”