Landlords welcome change to eviction rules

The UK government has updated its stance on exemptions to the rental eviction ban, a step which has been welcomed by the landlord community. ;
Eviction notice

A temporary suspension in debates due to the rise in covid-19 cases may mean that The House of Commons doesn’t get the opportunity to discuss a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) extension.

Exemptions to the eviction ban remain

Whilst the eviction ban is still in place, meaning no evictions can take place until the 21st of February 2021, exemptions where cases may proceed remain.

These circumstances include trespassers, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse cases and ‘substantial’ rent arrears.

Substantial arrears timeframe reduces

Two crucial differences between the old and new ban surround the exemption of substantial rent arrears.

In previous iterations of this ban, the government’s definition of what it considers substantial has been 9 months’ rent arrears, accrued before the initial UK lockdown in March 2020.

The changes they have made have reduced this term down to 6-months of accrued arrears.

Arrears accrued since March lockdown

In a further change, the government has said that arrears accrued since the first lockdown may now be included.

This means that landlords who were in a difficult position with rent not reaching the 9-month criteria, or having tenants who have been unable to pay since March 2020, can begin to move towards eviction.

Proportionate” update to the rules

Housing minister Christopher Pincher confirmed:

“The government believes that it is proportionate to widen the rent arrears exemption to the ban on the enforcement of residential evictions to cases where a court is satisfied that a possession order was granted on the grounds of rent arrears and where more than six months of rent is outstanding.”

“This change is intended to balance the effect of the ongoing restrictions on landlords with the need to continue to protect tenants.”

This will likely come as a welcome change to those landlords who may have been struggling with financial loss and the potential for repossession of their property, as a result.

Court proceedings

Court proceedings remain unaffected by the ban and landlords are still able to obtain a possession order, however, this cannot be enacted until the ban deadline passes.

However, it is prudent to remember that there will likely be a backlog of cases within the system leading to inevitable delays.

One way that the courts are trying to alleviate this pressure is through the use of review hearings conducted over the phone.

The rest of the UK

Scotland and Wales have different bans in place, with alternative conditions, however their bans are expected to remain in place until at least the end of March.

In Northern Ireland, rules require landlords to give 12 weeks’ notice before eviction and they have been extended until March.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.