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6 November, 2020 Open access

Government announces that bailiff action to enforce evictions will be halted, except in prescribed circumstances, in response to new coronavirus restrictions in England

Communities Minister confirms that there will be no bailiff action until 11 January 2021 at the earliest, with exceptions including illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour, and domestic abuse perpetrators in social housing

The government has announced that bailiff action to enforce evictions will be halted, except in prescribed circumstances, in response to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in England.

Setting out measures to protect renters from eviction for the duration of the restrictions that began in England on 5 November 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) confirms that there will be no bailiff action until 11 January 2021 at the earliest, and that -

'Whilst national restrictions apply, the only circumstances where these protections do not apply are illegal occupation, fraud, anti-social behaviour, eviction of domestic abuse perpetrators in social housing; where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant. We also intend to introduce an exemption for extreme pre-COVID rent arrears.'

The MHCLG adds that courts will remain open through the national restrictions, and that court rules and procedures introduced in September 2020 will ensure protections for both tenants and landlords, including the strict prioritisation of cases such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes. 

Commenting on the new measures, Communities Minister Robert Jenrick said -

'We have already 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.

We are now going further by protecting renters from eviction during the new national restrictions and throughout the Christmas period - with a pause on bailiff activity other than in the most serious circumstances, such as anti-social behaviour or fraud. Striking the right balance between helping tenants in need while ensuring landlords have access to justice in the most serious cases.'

For more information, see New protections for renters over duration of national restrictions from gov.uk