More than 55,000 Britons at risk of homelessness as evictions ban ends

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Tens of thousands of Britons are at risk of losing their homes as the Government’s ban of evictions comes to an end on Monday.

Private renters in England and Wales have been protected during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to a ban on evictions announced in March.

This was then extended, meaning anyone who has been served with an eviction notice since August 29 is entitled to a six-month notice period.

However, up to around 55,000 households in England who were served notices between March and August are not awarded this protection, campaign group Generation Rent has warned.

Labour has called for protective measures to be extended and has warned of a winter homelessness crisis, while the Local Government Association (LGA) has said councils are “concerned that the ending of the ban could see a rise in homelessness”.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate has said renters served notice before August could still face automatic eviction from Monday, while for those served notice after August “the measures simply delay the threat of homelessness”.

The National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) said it has encouraged landlords to “work with their tenants to sustain tenancies wherever possible”.

But the NRLA added it is important to begin tackling the “most serious cases” including tenants committing anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse, or with rent arrears which “have nothing to do with Covid-19”.

A 26-year-old tenant from Warwickshire, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was given notice by her landlord on April 2 for September 30 but said she has found it difficult to find a new home as she is a DSS tenant – meaning she is receiving benefits.

She said she had found a property but it is only available in November, meaning she has over a month in which her current landlord will be able to apply for a court ruling to have her forcibly removed.

“I am remaining anyway, because I’m not intentionally making myself homeless… but that will leave me liable for a lot of court fees and does risk me being told by the courts to leave with two weeks’ warning,” she said.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “We continue to encourage landlords to work with their tenants to sustain tenancies wherever possible, making use of the guidance we have prepared.

“To support this the Government should follow the example of Scotland and Wales and develop a stronger financial package to help tenants to pay off rent arrears built since the lockdown started.

“Ministers also need to address the crisis faced by those landlords who have rented their homes out whilst working elsewhere.

“The six months’ notice required in such circumstances freezes them out of accessing their own homes, effectively making them homeless.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We’ve taken unprecedented action to support renters by banning evictions for six months, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries.

“To help keep people in their homes over the winter months, we’ve changed the law to increase notice periods to six months and introduced a ‘winter truce’ on the enforcement of evictions for the first time.

“In addition we have put in place a welfare safety net of nearly £9.3 billion and increased Local Housing Allowance rates to cover the lowest 30 per cent of market rents.”