Eviction ban UK: why is it ending in England, what are the tenant’s rights - and what’s the new notice period?

Thousands of tenants now face eviction by bailiffs as the eviction ban comes to an end today

A protest against the planned reversal of the eviction ban, in August 2020, outside Manchester County Court (Photo: John B Hewitt/Shutterstock)

The eviction ban which has been in place in England since the start of the pandemic is due to end today (31 May).

After a full ban was implemented last year, the renewed protections which were issued in January stopped short of a complete ban, but the majority of renters have been protected.

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Despite evidence that many renters are still struggling financially as a result of the pandemic, and calls from across the sector for further support, the government will go ahead with the lifting of the ban.

What is the eviction ban?

In March 2020 the government announced a ban on bailiff-enforced evictions to support renters during the pandemic.

The ban has since been extended a number of times, but is scheduled to come to an end today (31 May).

Initially, all evictions were banned and eviction hearings were not taking place in courts in England and Wales.

While eviction hearings got back underway in September, bailiffs were under instruction not to begin enforcing them until tomorrow (1 June) in England.

The eviction ban is due to come to an end on 30 June in Wales, and in Scotland a different system is in place, though evictions generally will not resume until September.

What are the rules around eviction now?

Landlords can now evict tenants through the usual processes of either a Section 21 or Section 8 order.

A Section 21, or “no-fault” eviction order, can be enacted without a reason, and will give the tenant up to four months' notice, which will reduce again to two months’ notice in October.

However, in cases where a tenant has broken the rental agreement they can be given a Section 8 order, which can mean eviction with two weeks’ notice, or even no notice in more serious cases.

Some evictions have been going on during the “eviction ban”, in cases involving anti-social behaviour or more extreme cases.

Once the full ban is lifted, bailiffs will be able to enforce eviction notices with two weeks’ notice again.However, eviction notices will not be able to be enforced in instances where one or more residents have tested positive for Covid-19 or have been instructed to self-isolate by the NHS.

What are your rights as a tenant?

Landlords have to go through a strict legal process to evict a tenant, and the eviction can only be carried out by registered bailiffs, not the landlord themselves.

People who are struggling to afford their housing costs may be eligible for housing benefit, or a local authority discretionary housing payment.

Anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the next eight weeks should approach their local authority for support.

If you are facing eviction, or believe you could be at risk, you should reach out to one of the organisations below for tailored expert advice.

There are a number of charities which are set up to offer advice and support on housing and tenancy issues, as well as broader issues such as debt. They include;

Shelter: A leading housing and homelessness charity. Generation Rent: A campaign organisation which offers advice to tenants. Advice for Renters: An online advice service for renters. Citizens Advice: An independent organisation providing advice on a wide range of issues including housing and benefits. Turn2Us: A charity which supports people who are experiencing financial difficulties with advice and resources EntitledTo: A free benefits calculator which tells you how much you could be entitled to and how to claim

Why are people concerned about the end of the eviction ban?

Almost a million people in England fear being evicted in the coming months, while around 400,000 have already been served notices or told they will be evicted, according to polling carried out on behalf of the JRF think tank.

Research carried out by YouGov on behalf of JRF also found that more than 1.5 million renters are concerned about paying their rent over the next three months.

Campaigners say it is unfair that this form of support is being withdrawn for renters while support measures for homeowners such as the Stamp Duty holiday are still in place, even though renters are struggling more.

Research shows that, compared with homeowners, renters are three times more likely to be in arrears with housing costs or bills, as well as twice as likely to be worried about housing costs and potentially losing their homes.

Rachelle Earwaker, Economist at JRF said: “The Government’s stated aim to support more people into home ownership does not stack up with its decision to ignore the growing issue of rent arrears. For the 450,000 families locked in rent debt, the prospect of securing a mortgage is simply unimaginable and worse still, many will now struggle to secure a new home in the private rented sector just as the eviction ban ends.

“High levels of arrears are restricting families’ ability to pay the bills and forcing many to rely on hidden borrowing. This is not only deeply unjust, it is also economically naïve, and risks hampering our economic recovery, which is reliant on household spending increasing as society continues to reopen.

“The Government’s decision to provide a generous tax break to wealthier homeowners through the stamp duty holiday while failing to protect renters points to a worrying two-tier recovery in which those who were prospering prior to the pandemic will continue to do so, while those who have been hit hard will sink even further behind.

“The cost of boosting support to tackle rent arrears is a fraction of the cost of the stamp duty holiday. If we are to experience an economic recovery which benefits everyone across the country, the Government must urgently take action on rent arrears.”

What do landlords think about the end of the ban?

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has welcomed the end of the evictions ban as, “an important step in ensuring the sector's recovery”.

But Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, said that the government has “failed to provide tenants with the support they need” and stressed that the majority of those in rent arrears do not qualify for benefit support.

He said: “Without urgent assistance, many tenants face the prospect of losing their home needlessly as landlords struggle to shoulder the cost of arrears. Affected tenants also potentially face the negative impact of damage to their credit scores.

“The Government needs to develop a financial package which ensures that benefits cover the rents of those in receipt of them. For those who do not qualify for benefit support, an interest free, government guaranteed tenant hardship loan should be established, similar to those in Wales and Scotland.”

What do tenants think about the end of the eviction ban?

Acorn is a community union which primarily helps members with disputes relating to housing or other issues, such as wage theft.

The union has campaigned to maintain the eviction ban due to the high number of people in rent arrears due to the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Acorn said: “The Government has failed to properly protect renters and is putting an end to the temporary ban on evictions with next to no support for renters, especially those who have gotten into rent arrears due to loss of income during the pandemic.

“And with section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions still a weapon in a landlord’s arsenal, this will likely be the main tool used to evict people. This is despite a promise from the government 2 years ago that this would be scrapped as part of the Renters Reform Bill.

The union says it will “stand up” for members, and is “ready to resist evictions where necessary”.

Will the lifting of the eviction ban lead to an increase in homelessness?

Some experts have suggested that we could now see a rise in homelessness as a result of the eviction ban coming to an end.

Thousands of families, including those with children, are at risk of eviction due to rent arrears, and social housing waiting lists are already over-subscribed in many parts of the country.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The lifting of the eviction ban signals the beginning of the end for many renters facing homelessness. Thousands of people will wake up on the 1st of June knowing they’ll soon be kicked out of their home, with nowhere to go.

“The ban has been a lifeline for private renters who have weathered job losses, falling incomes and rising debts in this pandemic. But what happens now? Longer notice periods, while they last, will give some worried renters valuable time. But come September, anyone facing eviction will have just weeks to find somewhere else to live.

“The government needs to do more to stem the tide of rising evictions. It cannot waver from delivering a Renters’ Reform Bill that scraps Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions altogether. And in the meantime, it must offer renters with crippling Covid-arrears a package of financial aid.”