Ban on evictions extended
As of Thursday 7th January 2021, the ban on evictions in England, Scotland and Wales has been further extended.
All three countries announced that they are extending their existing bans on eviction action; meaning that bailiffs can’t repossess properties until the 21st February in England and the end of March in both Scotland and Wales.
What does this mean?
The Government placed a temporary ban on eviction action in England and Wales in November.
This removed the powers bailiffs have to repossess properties over the Christmas period – with the exception of very extreme circumstances – for example, rent arrears of over nine months, illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.
The ban had been going to expire on the 11th of January but has now been extended, by the Government, until 21st February in England and the 31st March in Wales.
Additionally, the Scottish Government has extended the ban – that was previously due to expire eon 22nd Jan – on repossession actions, in Scotland, until 31st March.
What are the different eviction rules in Scotland?
In Scotland, the eviction ban has been extended until the 31st March 2021 – for all areas under level 3 or level 4 restrictions. If a landlord is looking to begin eviction proceedings and remove a tenant, they have to give six months’ notice in the vast majority of cases. If, however, they or their family intend to move into the property, or they have their licence revoked, they can give three months’ notice. In cases where a tenant has already moved out, or is engaged in criminal activity, then a minimum of 28 days’ notice is required.
Covid payment holidays for landlords
Landlords and tenants who are facing financial difficulty due to the pandemic do have access to some support.
If a tenant is struggling to pay the rent, their landlord can still apply for payment breaks on their mortgage until 31st March – with a total of six months’ deferrals allowed.
The government advice for struggling tenants is to speak to their landlord to see if they can come to an agreement.
This agreement could include reducing or suspending payments in the short term.
What rights do tenants have and what assistance can they get during the pandemic?
Tenants are still required to pay their rent, as per their tenancy agreements. However, landlords are being encouraged to offer support for tenants that are struggling.
If you’re a tenant (or indeed, homeowner) and you’ve lost your job and aren’t earning at the moment, then you might qualify for financial support. Housing Allowance and Universal Credit have both been increased to cover the cost of housing.
Additionally, the Government has said that £180m has been made available to councils to enable them to provide discretionary housing payments to tenants who are struggling with paying their rent.
You can check with your council to see if you’re eligible for discretionary help with rent here.
If you’re living in Wales, you could be eligible to apply for a Tenant Saver Loan, which is offered by the credit unions. And, furthermore, low-income tenants in Scotland might also be able to apply for Local Housing Allowance.
It’s also important to remember that your right to live in a safe property is unaffected by Covid. Your landlord is still responsible for conducting all essential maintenance that needs to be carried out and for dealing with urgent issues like broken boilers.
If you’re concerned that your tenancy agreement is coming to an end and you’re worried about moving to a new house during the pandemic, then speak to your landlord to see what your options are; they may allow you to stay on a rolling, month-to-month basis, in light of the circumstances.
Advice for buy-to-let landlords
If you are a landlord, your responsibilities are unaffected by the current pandemic. Meaning that any essential repairs still have to be carried out, and any planned gas and electrical safety work still needs to be arranged, where possible.
If there is a legitimate reason these works can’t be carried out – i.e., if your tenant is self-isolating – then you should document your attempts to arrange for the work to be done, in case your council requests evidence at a later date.
You’re also now allowed to carry out viewings and let out houses, but you’ll have to make sure you stick to the government’s guidelines, which include social distancing, face masks and providing separate towels for different people viewing a property.
Obviously, if a current tenant has symptoms or is isolating, you won’t be able to conduct viewings.
What other help can I get?
If you’re a landlord, or a tenant, and are in financial difficulty, then it’s possible that a debt solution could help you to ease the strain on your finances and get back in control of your money.
If this sounds like it could be something that could benefit you, simply fill in our simple form and we’ll give you a call to discuss your options.
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