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Coronavirus: Emergency legislation to be introduced to ban eviction of tenants

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By David Hitchcock

The government have announced that they are set to bring in emergency legislation to protect private tenants from eviction. It is said that the legislation will:

  1. Suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during this national emergency;

  2. Ban any new possession proceedings (applications to evict tenants via the court); and

  3. Put in place measures to provide landlords with a three month mortgage payment holiday if required.

The legislation will ban landlords in England and Wales evicting tenants for at least three months, even if they are struggling to pay their rent. Private landlords whose tenants are struggling to pay rent can take a three-month buy-to-let mortgage payment holiday, although there is currently no such protection for social landlords. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have said that “landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.”

The National Housing Federation has confirmed that they will not evict tenants who are affected by the virus and fall behind on rent payments. Those with a Help to Buy equity loan will also be offered interest payment holidays.

We have spoken to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Governments today and it is understood (though not confirmed) that the new legislation will not affect current court applications to evict tenants, which will be allowed to continue.

No doubt the news will be a welcome relief for tenants in the private sector. Although some relief has been given for landlords, the devil will no doubt be in the detail (and who is eligible for mortgage relief) and there appears to be no protection for those landlords without mortgages to service, although the view is likely to be that those parties are least hard hit.

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