Evictions and what happens when the ban ends

4 min read
August 12, 2020

When it became apparent that the lockdown was going to have a huge impact on society, the Government brought in or proposed emergency legislation to cover a wide range of situations. One of the most significant was the ban on evictions.

Initially announced on the 18 March, the (complete) ban on evictions applied to England and Wales for three months but was extended to 23 August 2020 afterwards. Payment holidays were also extended to buy-to-let mortgages to ensure that overstretched landlords also had an outlet if they were struggling to meet payments.

But with the ban expiring in just a few weeks, what will happen next?

In practice, private landlords will be able to go to the courts to start eviction procedures from 24 August 2020. It’s not clear how many people will find themselves on the receiving end of such procedures, but support and advice agencies are reporting significant increases in rent concerns, threatened evictions and precarious mortgages. From the landlord perspective, some tenants have stopped paying rent over lockdown (breaking contracts) and that’s led to some properties potentially facing repossession.

The problem with renting before the coronavirus was the complexity of rules, lack of appeals processes and the fact that your landlord can just give you notice if they want to end the tenancy, even if you’ve done nothing wrong or missed a payment. The rules vary depending on your tenancy agreement. In short, you must be given notice by the landlord, though this period varies depending on what your agreement says. Your deposit must be protected according to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the landlord must abide by the terms of the contract which must be fair and comply with the law.

Read about our calls for measures to help support tenants and landlords

Alex’s blog: how to avoid an eviction crisis

How does eviction work?

It depends on whether you are a private or a council or housing association tenant. But in brief:

  • The landlord must give three months’ notice before applying to court
  • Expect a backlog but don’t get complacent – with emergency legislation and rules being drafted about all kinds of things, we may see ‘fast-track’ processes to deal with disputes of this nature
  • Private renters don’t stand much chance of winning in court if their landlord has followed the correct process, though council or housing association tenants may be able to appeal. It’s really complicated though – Shelter cover the process here

If your landlord gave an eviction notice before the lockdown then your situation is the most severe. You will need to get urgent legal advice as bailiffs can start operating from 24 August 2020, though your landlord must still give you two weeks’ notice before you are due to be evicted. Shelter has a great page full of legal advice and helplines

How to complain

Firstly, make a formal complaint to the landlord setting out why you think you’ve been treated unfairly. Make it clear if it’s rent increases, eviction with or without breach of contract or health and safety objections. If that doesn’t resolve the matter, your local council may be able to mediate.

You will need to go through your local council to find out about the process but make sure you notify your landlord and the courts if an eviction notice has been served or sought. The problem is the fact that your landlord can evict you if your contract is up and there’s not much you can do about it if they follow the rules.

Keep everything in writing where you can and get the landlord to put their responses in writing too.

What can I do if I’m worried about being evicted?

  • Don’t wait for it to happen: If you are behind on your rent, or your contact is due to end soon, get in touch with your landlord or letting agents now so you can pre-empt what might happen later.
  • Are you in arrears? If you’ve entered into a payment plan with your landlord or they’ve agreed to defer payments, make sure you have it in writing. If you’re worried about not being able to make payments, speak to your landlord now and see if you can agree terms and timescales. 
  • Claim Universal Credit now: The Government’s ‘all in one’ benefits scheme has had a bad reputation but it’s there, and it’s essential if you’ve been made unemployed and are struggling financially – the sooner you apply the better. For those who haven’t claimed in years – or ever – the payment for rent goes to you, not your landlord, so you don’t necessarily need to tell them. However, if you’re applying to rent a property, you may need to get extra references and some landlords are refusing to take people on benefits. 
  • Plan a move: If it’s looking like you’ll be asked to leave or might get priced out, don’t delay, shop around now. There are actually some quite good deals post lockdown but bear in mind the longer you leave it, the more competition there will be for the better lets. Work out what you’ll need cost-wise for a deposit and the cost of moving your belongings.

If you’re in financial difficulties, speak to free debt charity StepChange for help with your creditors. They will work out what you can afford to pay and may help you free up some cash to stay afloat.

Resolver has lots of advice for people who need to free up some cash, find work or claim benefits but we’re also calling for an extension to eviction bans and the introduction of other measures to support tenants and landlords

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