Government respond to “Allow Landlords to evict tenants where there are 14 days rent arrears”

Government respond to “Allow Landlords to evict tenants where there are 14 days rent arrears”

9:37 AM, 14th December 2020, About 10 months ago 4

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Dear Denise,

The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “Allow Landlords to evict tenants where there are 14 days rent arrears”.

Government responded:

Landlords can seek possession where tenants have 14 days rent arrears, given emergency legislation, landlords must give 6 months’ notice in such cases before starting formal possession proceedings.

We recognise the important role that landlords play in providing homes to millions of people nationwide. Under Section 8 and Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, private landlords can seek possession for rent arrears of any value. For arrears under two months, there are two grounds available – ground 10 applies where any level of rent arrears may have occurred and ground 11 covers persistent late payment of rent. These grounds are discretionary; the Judge will decide whether it is in the interests of all parties to award possession. For possession to be guaranteed, ground 8 allows for possession where there are at least two months/eight weeks of rent arrears. Prior to 26 March 2020, landlords were required to give tenants a minimum of two weeks’ notice before seeking possession under any of these rent arrears grounds.

Landlords are also able to seek possession of property under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 for any reason after a fixed-term tenancy has ended, the court must award possession if technical and safety requirements have been met. Prior to 26 March 2020, landlords were required to give tenants a minimum of 2 months’ notice before seeking possession under Section 21.

In order to protect public health given COVID-19, since 29 August 2020, landlords have been required to give tenants six months’ notice, except in the most egregious circumstances. The temporary measures the Government has implemented seek to support the most vulnerable renters and protect public health over winter, whilst ensuring that landlords can exercise their right to justice in the most serious cases.

We understand that there are some cases that landlords should be able to progress more quickly, because of the pressure they place on landlords, other tenants and local communities. Therefore, notice periods for the most serious circumstances, including in instances of anti-social behaviour and where six months of rent is due, have been reduced to between 2 and 4 weeks. Landlords are still able to seek possession for all levels of rent arrears, but must provide six months’ notice if less than six months of rent is due. Given the ongoing pressures of the pandemic, the Government believes this approach strikes a fair balance of ensuring landlords can progress the most urgent cases whilst ensuring ongoing protections to tenants. To further protect against coronavirus transmission, the Government has temporarily changed the law to ensure bailiffs do not enforce evictions in England until 11 January 2021. The only exceptions to this are the most serious circumstances, which does not include 14 days rent arrears.

The Government has been clear that tenants remain liable for paying their rent. An early conversation between landlord and tenant can help to agree a plan if tenants are struggling to pay their rent.

To help tenants pay their rent, the Government has put in place an unprecedented financial support package. This includes support for business to pay staff salaries through the Job Retention Scheme, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked until March 2021. We have also introduced substantial welfare support to help those who are facing financial disruption. This includes, in 2020/21, an extra £1 billion to increase Local Housing Allowance rates so that they cover the lowest 30% of market rents. As announced at the spending round for 2020/21 there is already £180 million for local authorities to distribute in Discretionary Housing Payments to support renters with housing costs.

We are grateful to landlords for their forbearance during this difficult time and are conscious of the financial pressure on landlords. Where landlords find themselves in coronavirus-related hardship, mortgage lenders have agreed to offer payment holidays of up to six months, including for buy-to-let mortgages. This was further extended, with applications open to 31 March 2021 and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.

Where possible and appropriate, including cases of rent arrears, we encourage landlords and tenants to consider alternative dispute resolution such as mediation to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their dispute, without the matter needing to go to court.

When parliamentary time allows, the Government is committed to introducing reforms to deliver a fairer and more effective rental market. This will be achieved by legislating to remove Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, to provide tenants with more security – but also strengthening the grounds for eviction to ensure that landlords have confidence that they can gain possession when it is fair to do so. This includes working closely with the Ministry of Justice to explore how we can simplify court processes and make them work more efficiently.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Click this link to view the response online:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/549258?reveal_response=yes

The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.

The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#petitions-committee

Thanks,
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament



Comments

by Denise G

11:36 AM, 14th December 2020, About 10 months ago

I especially 'enjoyed' the last paragraph

by Ian Narbeth

10:46 AM, 15th December 2020, About 10 months ago

It helps to read between the lines:
"We recognise the important role that landlords play in providing homes to millions of people nationwide." This sounds like lip service given the past 5 years of unremitting attacks on the PRS.
"We are grateful to landlords for their forbearance during this difficult time and are conscious of the financial pressure on landlords. " As if landlords have a choice! As Richard Nixon famously said "When you've got 'em by the b*l*s the hearts and minds will follow."
"..those [landlords] that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file" meaning that those who have not already started one but now need to do so, will find it affects their credit rating. Even if the statement is true my broker tells me that lenders will take account of the fact that a landlord took a mortgage holiday so it may be more difficult or expensive to borrow.
"Where possible and appropriate, including cases of rent arrears, we encourage landlords and tenants to consider alternative dispute resolution such as mediation to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their dispute, without the matter needing to go to court." When rent is not paid there is no real dispute. There is no disagreement that the rent is due. All that is being done is putting pressure on landlords to agree to write off arrears.
"The temporary measures the Government has implemented seek to support the most vulnerable renters and protect public health over winter, whilst ensuring that landlords can exercise their right to justice in the most serious cases". So landlords will not be allowed to exercise their right to justice in "non-serious" cases. In other words some landlords will have to accept injustice.

by Old Mrs Landlord

11:57 AM, 15th December 2020, About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 15/12/2020 - 10:46Precisely! At least they didn't repeat that line about support being available for all who find themselves in financial difficulty because of Covid - that would have really been rubbing our noses in it. Landlords are well aware that even if their rental income is their only income and drops to nil they are still responsible for the maintenance and compliance of the properties whilst being excluded from claiming any benefits because of the "assets" they own.

by TrevL

13:35 PM, 15th December 2020, About 10 months ago

Although I agree, the eviction ban is legal injustice, there is a certain level of social justice in that for years us landlords have privatised the profits of the housing crisis, the government is simply saying that the losses should be privatised as well......which is actually quite refreshing (if it was me that it affected).

And if recent headlines are to be believed, there are plenty of people using the stamp duty pause to stock up on rental properties there must still be plenty of money that be made, or a lot of idiots who are gonna lose their shirt.

Once the vaccine has been rolled out this minor blip will all be forgotten.


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