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10 September, 2020 Open access

Government outlines ‘comprehensive measures’ to support renters affected by COVID-19 through the autumn and winter

Support to be extended to tenants in areas under a local lockdown that includes a restriction on gathering in homes, and ‘winter truce’ introduced for most evictions in England and Wales

The government has outlined 'comprehensive measures' to support renters affected by COVID-19 through the autumn and winter, including for people in areas under a local lockdown, and a ‘winter truce’ for most evictions in England and Wales.

While it says that restarting possession proceedings is an important step towards transitioning out of emergency measures and 'allowing the market to operate' while ensuring people have appropriate access to justice, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) confirms today that -

'The government has changed the law to increase notice periods to 6 months meaning renters now served notice can stay in their homes over winter, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.  The only exceptions to this are the most egregious cases, including where tenants have demonstrated anti-social behaviour or committed fraud, and the landlord rightly would like to re-let their property to another tenant.'

NB - the extension of the minimum notice period for eviction of statutory tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England is provided for by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI.No.914/2020) that were issued on 28 August 2020.

In addition, the MHCLG says that - 

For more information, see Government sets out comprehensive support for renters this winter from gov.uk

See also: SI.No.778/2020 that provides for a temporary increase in the notice period to six months in Wales; SR.No.192/2020 that extends the period where landlords in Northern Ireland are required to provide private tenants with a 12-week notice period to 31 March 2021; and the Scottish Government's announcement that it intends to extend the six-month notice of eviction requirement introduced by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 to March 2021.