New changes mean renters can’t be evicted over Christmas

Huge new changes mean that renters can't be evicted from their homes over Christmas or for the next six months.

This also means that anyone affected by coronavirus will also be supported through the winter as new measures were confirmed on Thursday.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick made the announcement that the government has changed the law to make sure people have time to find alternative accommodation.

As a result, notice periods have been increased to six months meaning renters now served notice can stay in their homes over winter, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.

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The only exceptions to this are the most egregious cases, including where tenants have demonstrated anti-social behaviour or committed fraud, and the landlord rightly would like to re-let their property to another tenant.

The Housing Secretary has also today confirmed that with coronavirus still posing a risk, if an area is in a local lockdown that includes a restriction on gathering in homes, evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs.

This support builds on the unprecedented package the Government has put in place to help communities through the pandemic, including support for businesses to pay staff salaries and strengthening the welfare safety-net with a nearly £9.3bn boost to the welfare system.

This includes an extra £1bn to increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they cover the lowest 30% of market rents, meaning we now spend £25bn supporting households to meet the cost of rent in the private and social rented sectors.

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For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180m of Government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments made available this year, an increase of £40m from last year and which is for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.

From 21 September courts will start to hear possession hearings again.

When cases are heard again these will be subject to new court processes and procedures which the Judiciary have developed.

There will also be a "winter truce" on the enforcement of evictions, with no evictions permitted in England and Wales in the run up to and over Christmas except in the most serious circumstances, such as cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.

This will ensure vulnerable tenants are not forced from their homes at a time when public and local authorities may be dealing with the usual level of increased demand for services during this time.

To achieve this, guidance will be issued to bailiffs that they should not enforce possession orders in the weeks of Christmas.

Robert Jenrick said: “We have protected renters during the pandemic by banning evictions for six months – the longest eviction ban in the UK.

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"To further support renters we have increased notice periods to six months, an unprecedented measure to help keep people in their homes over the winter months.

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“It’s right that we strike a balance between protecting vulnerable renters and ensuring landlords whose tenants have behaved in illegal or anti-social ways have access to justice.

Our legislation means such cases will be subject to shorter notice periods and then prioritised through the judiciary’s new court processes.”

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