The coronavirus moratorium on evictions of tenants currently set to end in five days is now “under review”, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons in his latest update on government policy during the pandemic.
Asked by Keir Starmer today about financial support during the fresh lockdown in England, Johnson said: “We will continue to support families through Universal Credit. There’s been an uplift as he knows of £1,000 until – at least until – April.”
The Prime Minister added: “The eviction ban is under review.” But he offered no further details and gave no indication of when people would find out whether an extension is being implemented and how it might be put in place.
Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire wrote to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on December 22nd asking whether the government would act to protect renters from eviction and bring forward legislation to scrap ‘no fault’ evictions.
Commenting on the lockdown, she said: “The government has asked us to stay at home, they now need to renew their commitment from March that everyone will have a safe and secure home to shelter in.
“That means a ban on evictions, a national effort to get everybody off the streets, and keeping their promise that nobody will lose their home because of coronavirus.”
Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle Council and of the Local Government Association Labour group, urged the government on Tuesday to clarify as soon as possible whether the ban would be extended to prevent “an avoidable housing crisis”.
All ‘Section 21′ evictions are on hold until after January 11th, and renters can only be evicted by court bailiffs before then due to antisocial behaviour or if they owed more than nine months’ rent before March 23rd last year.
The government ignored calls in September to bring forward fresh legislation ahead of the evictions ban ending on September 20th, after a four-week extension. The ban ended, but it was agreed that tenants in Tier 2 and 3 were temporarily protected.
Bailiffs were asked not to enforce court possession orders in the places with the highest coronavirus restrictions. This means that eviction orders could be granted, but court orders would not be enforced in those areas.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told bailiff trade bodies that their members “should instruct the enforcement agents working under their authorisation not to enter properties that are classified as local alert level 2 (high) or 3 (very high)”.
Enforcement action was also paused over the Christmas period between December 11th and January 11th except in “the most serious circumstances” such as those involving antisocial behaviour or domestic abuse.
The National Residential Landlords Association, which opposes the ban, has warned its members that “it is extremely likely there will be a further announcement on this in the coming days” on extending the ‘stay’ on evictions.
It has been reported by the i that the government is not planning to restart the ‘Everyone In’ scheme that was brought in during the first lockdown to accommodate rough sleepers in emergency housing, despite a fresh lockdown.
Responding to the news, Labour’s housing spokesperson Debbonaire said: “This is shocking, and extremely irresponsible. One in 50 people in the UK have Covid-19, and rough sleepers are some of the most exposed in our society.
“Labour has been calling for protection for rough sleepers for months. The government has asked everyone to stay at home, at the same time as they turn their back on people without a home. This broken promise will cost lives.”