Coronavirus eviction law: Renters protected for the next three months

The Government has pledged to protect renters from eviction for the next three months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Emergency legislation is being brought forward preventing landlords from starting eviction proceedings during that period, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced.

“As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation need to be concerned about the threat of eviction,” the department said in a statement on 18 March 2020.

Who will be protected? 

Housing Secretary Robert 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.”

How will the eviction law work?

Landlords, in both the private and social sector, will be prohibited from starting eviction proceedings against tenants during the next three months.

The measure is aimed specifically at protecting renters struggling to make payments because of financial difficulty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Guidance will be issued asking landlords to “show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by this to remain in their homes wherever possible.”

In addition the ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings, which currently only covers social landlords taking action against tenants, is to be widened to include private renters, thereby offering them greater protection from potential eviction.

What does the new coronavirus eviction law mean for landlords?

The Government also announced that a three month mortgage payment holiday unveiled on 17 March for homeowners would be extended to landlords, “whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus.”

The statement continued, “At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.”

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, welcomed the support for landlords.

He said: “We recognise the exceptional circumstances and we will work collaboratively with government to ensure these measures protect both landlords and tenants.”

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Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “No one should be evicted because of the coronavirus.

“We are confident that no housing association will do this, and want anyone affected by the outbreak to be reassured they will not be evicted.”

Who else is the Government helping?

Holders of Government-backed Help to Buy equity loans will be offered interest payment holidays if they are struggling to pay because of coronavirus.

The measures, including those to help renters, were first announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during PMQs in the House of Commons on 18 March.

He responded to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when pressed on whether the Government would bring forward emergency legislation to protect private renters from eviction.

Johnson said: “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.”

There had been pressure on the Government to help renters after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £350 billion of help for business on 17 March.

The assistance will come in the form of £330 billion in loans and £20 billion in other aid, he said.

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