StepChange comments on the lifting of the eviction ban

Following a four week extension, the ban on rental evictions will be lifted on Sunday 20 September. StepChange Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs, Peter Tutton, says that without affordable options to address renters’ arrears, a sharp rise in homelessness is an all-too-real possibility: “Last month’s eviction ban extension was a critical opportunity for Ministers to heed concerns raised across the advice sector about the risks of a wave of evictions for coronavirus-related rent arrears. At the time we urged the Government to implement a statutory pre-action protocol, which gives courts discretion in cases where arrears have built up as a result of the pandemic. We also called for an acceleration of plans to end Section 21 no-fault evictions to prevent landlords being able to evade protections.

“However the past month has seen little meaningful change, and the delay in lifting the ban appears to have been no more than a stay of execution. New research from StepChange shows that up to 206,000 people who’ve been affected by coronavirus are currently behind on their rent in the UK and, with the economic fallout from the pandemic set to continue to devastate people’s finances, a sharp rise in homelessness is an all-too-real possibility unless renters are given the affordable options they need to address arrears.

“The Government must step up to amend the Housing Act to ensure no one in rent arrears and affected by coronavirus is subject to a mandatory eviction order by the courts. We understand that in many cases, people won’t be able to clear arrears built up in the pandemic in a way that works with the financial pressures covid may be exerting on small landlords. That’s why the Government must implement a National Recovery Fund to provide grants and loans to help those struggling with arrears and debt due to Covid-19 keep their homes.”