Eviction notice periods are to be set at four months from 1 June, but are slated to return to pre-pandemic levels in October, according to the government.
The announcement of a ‘phased approach’ is designed to help the country ease back into normal life after over a year of lockdowns and a tumultuous economy.
The current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, will end on 31 May. Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating. However, there was no announcement as to how this will be determined or enforced.
Christopher Pincher, the UK’s housing minister, said that the government will continue to support tenants while balancing the needs of landlords. ‘Crucial’ financial support, he added, remains in place with the furlough scheme and the uplift to Universal Credit.
Oli Sherlock, head of insurance at Goodlord, tried to make the case for landlords across the country. He said: “The stay on evictions couldn’t remain in place forever and, with the last lockdown restrictions almost behind us, now is a sensible time to roll-back the measures and provide clearer timelines on next steps. Whilst the ban was clearly a well-intentioned decision designed to protect tenants, it has caused financial distress to some landlords and enabled rogue renters to avoid paying rent in isolated cases.”
Sherlock did make one salient point regarding what happens after the eviction notice periods return to normal. He said: “Renters who have amassed arrears will soon be faced with the need to repay or face eviction. And courts are braced for a deluge of cases to process evictions that they may struggle to cope with. What the Government needs to do now is ensure that robust, effective mediation services are available to all and that tenants and landlords are both clear on their rights and responsibilities.”
Others tried to stake out more-middle ground. Isobel Thomson, chief executive of safeagent, said that the situation would allow both tenants and landlords the time to make appropriate plans. She added: “Landlords who have maintained tenancies throughout the pandemic at often personal cost and hardship now have a clear route to repossessing their properties should they need to do so. Tenants have the certainty of knowing they will continue to be protected with a longer notice period for the months ahead.”