New evictions to be banned during coronavirus ‘national emergency’

Worried woman reading a letter at home.Landlords will be banned from evicting tenants during the coronavirus “national emergency” after the government rushed through legislation to help renters who may face financial difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick outlined plans on Wednesday that forbid landlords starting proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period during what he described as “extraordinary times”.

The three-month mortgage payment holiday announced by the Chancellor on Tuesday will also be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s national landlord organisation have taken their own steps to protect renters by issuing a five-point plan to its members to help tenants who might be affected by the economic implications of Covid-19 in Scotland.

These include checking on the welfare of vulnerable tenants and seeking to find solutions for tenants who may be struggling to pay the rent.

Announcing the government’s latest emergency move, Mr 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.”

The move comes after the government faced criticism that they were not doing enough to help this often vulnerable group.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Johnson was urged by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to bring in measures to protect renters after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced homeowners would be offered a three-month mortgage holiday if they faced financial difficulties.

Mortgage lenders agreed to support customers who may struggle to keep up mortgage repayments due to the Covid-19 outbreak, a move now extended to landlords.

The measure, outlined in Johnson’s now-daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, means eligible customers will have the capital sum of their mortgage payment deferred for three months – although the interest will continue to accrue.

The measure – part of a £350billion package to shore up the economy and help businesses during the coronavirus outbreak – prompted calls from opposition MPs for tenants to be offered a rental-holiday.

On Wednesday Mr Corbyn said: “Yesterday, the Chancellor unfortunately offered nothing to the 20 million people living in rented homes, including three million households with children.

“They’re worried, they’re worried sick that they can’t pay their rent if they get ill, lose pay or feel they need to self-isolate.

“It is in the interests of public health, of the health of all of us, that people don’t feel forced to go to work in order to avoid eviction when they know themselves they may be spreading this terrible disease.

“So will the Prime Minister now confirm that the Government’s emergency legislation will protect private renters from eviction?”

At an unusually sparse PMQs, Mr Johnson replied: “I can indeed confirm that we will be bringing forward legislation to protect private renters from eviction, that is one thing we will do, but it is also important as we legislate that we do not simply pass on the problem, so we’ll also be taking steps to protect other actors in the economy.”

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19th March 2020