The UK government is imposing a complete ban on new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the coronavirus crisis.
Emergency legislation is being introduced to prevent any evictions, as part of what the government described as a radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus.
It said “no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time”.
The announcement by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) aligns with earlier comments by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the Local Government Association, which stated that no one should be evicted as a result of the pandemic.
The legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.
It means a halt to any possession proceedings through applications to the court during the national emergency.
It said private landlords will also be protected as the three-month mortgage payment holiday – announced earlier this week – will be extended to buy-to-let mortgages.
At the end of the period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.
“These are extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage. Which is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.
“These changes will protect all renters and private landlords, ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.”
In a statement, chief executive Kate Henderson said: “We are confident that no housing association will do this, and want anyone affected by the outbreak to be reassured they will not be evicted.”
Government said it has worked with the Master of the Rolls to widen the ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings, to include private renters and to strengthen its remit.
It said this will support the necessary engagement between landlords and tenants to resolve disputes and landlords will have to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in.
MHCLG will also issue guidance asking landlords to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by this to remain in their homes wherever possible.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Landlord groups welcome government support.
"We recognise the exceptional circumstances and we will work collaboratively with government to ensure these measures protect both landlords and tenants.”
Social Housing has asked MHCLG what financial relief and support might be provided to housing associations.
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