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The government’s ban on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic has been extended until the end of August.
The block on evictions – which was first announced in March to protect those who had lost their jobs or had been furloughed because of Covid-19 – was due to end on June 29.
But on Friday, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said the ban had been extended to August 23, promising that “no-one will be evicted from their home this summer”.
It comes after charities and unions warned that tens of thousands of households could face eviction and homelessness when the rule expired in June.
Jenrick said: “We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic.
“Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.”
But homelessness charity Shelter called the extension a “stop-gap”.
Chief executive Polly Neate said: “The ban hasn’t stopped people who’ve lost their jobs during this pandemic from racking up rent arrears.
“Even if they have a plan to pay them back, these debts will throw struggling renters straight back into the firing line of an automatic eviction as soon as the ban does lift.”
Judges must be given the power to stop people losing their homes because of coronavirus, she said.
“Sooner or later, the government has to stop kicking the can down the road,” Neate added.
Meanwhile, Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Gillian Guy said simply extending the pause on repossession was “a sticking plaster, not a cure”.
“People who have fallen behind on rent arrears and those who have been furloughed or lost their jobs will need the security of proper reform to the rules governing evictions.”
The government said ministers are working with the judiciary on new rules to help courts better “address the need for appropriate protection of all parties”, such as the most vulnerable tenants.
It recommends landlords and tenants experiencing financial difficulties work together and look at flexible payment plans to ensure cases only end up in court “as an absolute last resort”.
The “the ultimate ambition” is to transition out of the measures offered to renters and landlords at the end of August “to allow the market to operate while ensuring people have appropriate access to justice”.