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25 June, 2020 Open access

Government says it is exploring ‘a number of options’ to prevent increase in evictions once moratorium ends in August

Response to Select Committee report advises that current work includes developing new rules so courts are 'better able to protect all parties', including those shielding from coronavirus

The government has said it is exploring 'a number of options’ to prevent an increase in evictions once the current moratorium ends in August.

Responding to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s report on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on homeless people and the private rented sector - which included the Committee's warning that, unless the government amended existing housing legislation, its plans to introduce a pre-action protocol in the private rented sector would fail to prevent a surge in evictions once the moratorium on possession cases came to an end - the government says -

‘We share the Committee’s desire to prevent an increase in evictions once the moratorium on evictions ends. We are exploring a number of options, including a pre-action protocol for claims for possession by private landlords, in supporting parties to work through issues. The government is working with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements, including new rules, which will mean that courts are better able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties, including those shielding from coronavirus once the stay on possession proceedings ends in August. This is to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need.’

In addition, responding to the Committee’s recommendation to abolish ‘no-fault evictions’ under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 within the next 12 months, while the government says it remains committed to tenancy reform, it goes on to say -

‘… our immediate efforts are focused on the response to COVID-19. The emergency measures we have put in place are a proportionate response to the crisis and we will continue with our wider reform agenda in due course.’

Elsewhere, the government advises that, in relation to its decision to increase local housing allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents for 2020/2021 -

‘There are currently no plans to reverse the increase and decisions on Local Housing Allowance levels from April 2021 will be made through future fiscal events and DWP Rent Officers Orders in the normal way.’

NB - the response also sets out the actions the government has taken to support rough sleepers off the streets during the pandemic, including its announcement yesterday of additional funding of £105 million.

For more information, see Protecting rough sleepers and renters: government response to the Select Committee report from gov.uk