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7 July, 2020 Open access

Almost a quarter of a million renters at risk of ‘COVID-eviction’ when government lifts ban

Shelter says that even some small changes in the law would give judges the power to ensure that no renter is automatically evicted, and the impact of coronavirus is always considered

Almost a quarter of a million renters will be at risk of 'COVID-eviction' when the government lifts its ban, Shelter has warned.

While Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick had said on 5 June 2020 that -

'Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus ...'

- Housing Minister Lord Greenhalgh confirmed last week that the courts will begin to process possession cases again from 24 August 2020.

However, Shelter says that an estimated 227,000 adult private renters have fallen into arrears since the start of the pandemic, that 174,000 private tenants have already been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent, and that the total number of private renters in arrears has reached 442,000 adults, double what it was in the same period last year.

With little more than a week until Parliament breaks for recess, and less than two months before the eviction ban lifts, Shelter is therefore urging the government to act now and keep its promise that no-one will lose their home because of COVID-19. By making small changes to the law, Shelter says, the government can give judges the powers they need to halt automatic evictions, giving people the best chance possible of staying safe in their homes.   

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said -

'We know people have been doing whatever they can to pay their rent and keep their home safe. Despite this, the minute the evictions ban lifts, the 230,000 already behind with their rent could be up for automatic eviction if they’ve built up eight weeks-worth of arrears. And judges will be powerless to help them. That’s more than the entire population of Portsmouth at risk of losing their homes. And let’s not forget: this pandemic is not over.'

For more information, see 230,000 renters at risk of ‘Covid-eviction’ when government ban lifts.