The government has extended its ban on eviction enforcement in England by a further six weeks.
In the last 24 hours, the government has announced that the ban on bailiffs taking possession of properties in England will be extended until 31 March, bringing it into line with rules already in force in Scotland and Wales.
Here, we explain the eviction rules in place around the UK and offer advice on landlord and tenant rights during COVID-19.
- Eviction ban extended in England
- Eviction rules around the UK
- COVID-19 mortgage payment holidays for landlords
- Tenant rights and assistance during the coronavirus
- Landlord advice during the coronavirus
In November, the government placed a pause on eviction enforcement in England.
This meant that bailiffs were banned from repossessing properties over the Christmas period, apart from in the most extreme circumstances.
These included instances of rent arrears of nine months’ or longer, illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.
- England: eviction enforcement is banned until 31 March. Landlords commencing eviction proceedings must give six months notice except ‘in the most serious of cases’, such as instances of domestic abuse or anti-social behaviour.
- Scotland: the eviction ban will run until 31 March for all areas under level 3 or level 4 restrictions. Landlords commencing eviction proceedings must give six months’ notice in most cases. They can give three months’ notice if they or their family intend to move in to the property or they have their licence revoked, or 28 days’ notice if the tenant has engaged in criminal behaviour or has already moved out.
- Wales: evictions are banned until 31 March. Landlords starting eviction proceedings must give six months’ notice except in cases of anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.
- Northern Ireland: landlords must give tenants 12 weeks’ notice before starting eviction proceedings until 31 March.
COVID-19 mortgage payment holidays for landlords
Some support is available for landlords and tenants facing financial difficulties due to the ongoing pandemic.
Landlords whose tenants are struggling to pay rent can still apply for payment breaks on their mortgages until 31 March, with total deferrals of up to six months allowed.
The government says that tenants who are unable to afford their rent should speak to their landlord directly to try to reach an agreement, which could include reducing or suspending payments in the short term.
- Find out more: how to get a mortgage payment holiday
Tenant rights and assistance during COVID-19
You’re still required to pay your rent as per the terms of your tenancy agreement, but landlords are being encouraged to offer support for renters who are struggling.
If you’re not currently earning, you might be able to qualify for financial support. Housing Allowance and Universal Credit have been increased to cover housing costs. In addition, the government says it has also made £180m available to councils to provide discretionary housing payments to tenants struggling to pay their rent. Check with your council to see if you’re eligible.
Your right to live in a safe property is unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak. Your landlord is still responsible for conducting essential maintenance and dealing with urgent issues (for example if the boiler breaks down).
If your tenancy agreement is coming to an end and you’re concerned about moving during the pandemic, speak to your landlord about your options. Some landlords may be willing to discuss a month-by-month agreement given the current circumstances.
Buy-to-let landlord advice during COVID-19
Your responsibilities as a landlord are unaffected by COVID-19, so any essential repairs must still be conducted, and planned gas and electrical safety inspections should be arranged wherever possible.
If for some reason you can’t have essential work carried out (for example if the tenant is self-isolating), then you should document your attempts to do so in case your council requests evidence.
You can now carry out viewings and let out homes, but you’ll need to adhere to the government’s guidelines. These including social distancing, wearing a face covering and providing separate towels for people coming to view properties.
If a current tenant is isolating or has COVID-19 symptoms, you won’t be able to conduct viewings.
This story was originally published in March 2020, but has since been updated. The last update was on 15 February 2021 with news of the eviction ban in England being extended until the end of March.