Government extends eviction protection for renters during third national lockdown

On 8th January, the government announced that renters will continue to be supported during the third national lockdown by extending the ban on bailiff evictions for all but the most egregious cases until at least 21st February.

The only exceptions to this legislation are cases of:

  • illegal occupation
  • false statement
  • anti-social behaviour
  • perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector
  • death of a tenant where a property is unoccupied
  • serious rent arrears greater than six months’ rent. 

The stay on possession proceedings expired on 20th September last year, following an extension in August 2020, where landlords have been able to progress their possession claim through the courts, after giving tenants six months’ notice.

Courts will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes.

This follows a letter sent by the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL) last week, which proposed collaboration on any potential extension to the enforcement moratorium following the latest national lockdown.

Within the letter, the ASTL stated that a “broad-brush approach” to mortgage lending enforcement when it comes to measures, such as repossessing a domestic residence where health concerns continue, was detrimental to customer choice and access to finance.

“The initial moratorium came to an end in September and, while there have been no physical repossessions since, this has allowed for the progression of actions where there has been legitimate cause, to a point where repossession might take place, subject to the decisions of the court and when the wider health environment improves,” it added.

“Put simply, it has enabled the courts to make decisions on the correct course of action, based on the specific circumstances of an individual case.”

The letter also said that, by enabling the “machinery of the process” to operate in this way, it had somewhat alleviated the long-term liquidity concerns for some lenders, and also mitigated against further logjams in the court system in the future.

Vic Jannels, CEO at ASTL, commented: “The ASTL represents the interests of many of the short-term mortgage lenders in the United Kingdom, which have a collective loan book of more than £4.5bn and are responsible for annual lending of over £1bn. 

“The bridging and development loans advanced by our members are a crucial source of finance for many thousands of SMEs and property developers, as well as private individuals and will be in even greater need following the end of CBILS and BBLS. 

“With this in mind, we believe any extension to the moratorium will significantly slow down the recovery that all stakeholders are working towards.“
Jonathan Newman, senior partner at Brightstone Law and member of the ASTL Executive Committee, added: “As we have discussed previously with HM Treasury, short-term lenders are disproportionately impacted by the moratorium given the typical nature of their funding model, and any return to a wholescale moratorium would significantly reduce the availability of finance when it is most needed as we emerge from the pandemic.”

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