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Is a further ban on evictions on the cards?

5th October 2020

Perhaps not entirely unexpectedly we saw, yesterday (10 September 2020), an announcement from the Government of further delays in the ability to obtain possession of property from tenants.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced yesterday afternoon that County Court Bailiffs have been informed that they cannot carry out evictions of residential occupiers over Christmas in what is referred to as a “winter truce”. The ban will take effect in the run up to and during the Christmas Festival period in England and Wales, save for in the "most serious circumstances", such as anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.

It is fair to say that the County Court Bailiffs implement a moratorium on evictions every year for the Christmas period in any event, which usually sees no evictions after the 15 December through to around the following 2 January. This announcement would appear, therefore, either to be headline grabbing on something that occurs anyway or is actually intended to appear as, or is, something more than that usual approach. It is unclear at this stage if this new ban is for the whole of December or the whole of the winter or something else, but presumably further clarification is to follow. It is also unclear (although expected) if the same ban applies to High Court Enforcement Officers.

Additionally, Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, proclaimed yesterday that County Court Bailiffs will not be able to undertake evictions at any time in regions that are under local lockdowns and where those conditions include restrictions on gathering in homes.

Mr Jenrick repeated the Government’s “unprecedented” protection for tenants during this Covid 19 period in banning evictions and extending notice periods when he said about today’s announcement that :-

“It is right that we strike a balance between protecting vulnerable renters and ensuring landlords whose tenants have behaved in illegal or anti-social ways have access to justice. Our legislation means such cases will be subject to shorter notice periods and then prioritised through the judiciary's new court processes."

A recent survey published by Shelter shows that the number of private housing tenants who have received notice of termination exceeds 170,000 with over 230,000 in England purportedly behind with their rent to some degree since the pandemic started. Those statistics do not accord with a similar report by the National Residential Landlords Association (here), however, which recently found that “87% of private tenants have paid their rent as normal throughout the pandemic so far. An additional 8% said that they had agreed a reduced rent, a rent-free period or made some other agreement with their landlord or letting agent.” The survey states that “just over three per cent of tenants are building arrears and are unable or unwilling to repay these.” Whether this is a genuine representation of the state of rent arrears across England Wales is, therefore, up for debate.

For Landlords of tenants who are not paying all or, perhaps, any of their rent this news is likely to create huge disappointment, particularly following the announcement of the ability to kick start the possession action process from 21 September 2020.

It is unclear at this stage whether that progress is to be affected by this announcement, or whether the Court suspension will be further extended beyond 20 September 2020. With the Covid 19 infection rates steadily increasing across the UK and throughout Europe, it has to be expected that this situation will remain fluid. Once again then we must watch this space to see what further clarification is provided in respect of this announcement and what effect that will have on further delays in possession actions moving forward.

For more information, please contact Kevin Lever, on 01435 897297 or

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