The government has announced an extension to the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions in England.
Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said that the ban will remain in place for another six weeks for all but the most serious cases.
The ban was initially due to expire on 11 January, but was subsequently extended last month until 22 February.
“We have taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, including introducing a six-month notice period and financial support to help those struggling to pay their rent,” said Jenrick.
“By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time.
“Our measures strike the right balance between protecting tenants and enabling landlords to exercise their right to justice.”
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said that the extension was merely pushing problems further down the line.
Beadle said that 800,000 private renters have built up arrears that they were unlikely to ever pay off.
“It will lead eventually to them having to leave their home and face serious damage to their credit scores,” Beadle said.
“The government needs to get a grip and do something about the debt crisis renters and landlords are now facing.
“A package of hardship loans and grants is needed as a matter of urgency. To expect landlords and tenants simply to muddle through without further support is a strategy that has passed its sell-by date.”
Shelter said that 445,000 private renters in England have been served with an eviction notice in the last month, or fallen behind on rent, according to their research.
Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “Thousands of renters who’ve been living in fear of the bailiffs’ knock at the door, have today been given a few more weeks in their home.
“This short extension to the bailiff ban may keep people safe for now, but it’s not an answer to the evictions crisis. Renters are still are being served with eviction notices every day, and our helpline is flooded with calls from those desperately worried about paying their rent.
“Before the ban is lifted, the government must give renters a real way out of debt. That means a lifeline of emergency grants to help pay off ‘Covid-arrears’ so people can avoid the terrifying risk of eviction altogether.”
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