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Prohibition on bailiff evictions extended again - now in place until 31 March, says Housing Secretary

The ban on bailiff evictions has been extended for another six weeks until 31 March, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced over the weekend.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said exemptions would remain in place “for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords as well as other residents and neighbours, such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more”.

The MHCLG said landlords were also required to give 6-month notice periods to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the most serious circumstances, “meaning that most renters now served notice can stay in their homes until at least August 2021, with time to find alternative support or accommodation”.

It added that for those renters who required additional support, there was an existing £180m of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.

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Jenrick said: “We have taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic including introducing a six-month notice period and financial support to help those struggling to pay their rent.

“By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time.

“Our measures strike the right balance between protecting tenants and enabling landlords to exercise their right to justice.”

The MHCLG said court rules and procedures introduced in September to support both tenants and landlords would remain in place and be regularly reviewed.

The Government also launched a free mediation pilot at the beginning of February, aimed at reducing the backlog of housing cases. However, the Law Society last week warned that it “must not replace the usual routes to access justice”.

MHCLG data has revealed the impact of the ban on evictions, with applications to the courts for possession by private and social landlords down 67% between October and December 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019. The number of repossessions recorded October to December 2020 was down 93% compared to the same quarter in 2019. Only 548 repossessions were recorded between April and December 2020 compared to 22,444 in the same period in 2019.

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