I have been contacted by many constituents in the private rented sector who are worried about being evicted from their homes in the event that they are not able to pay their rent during the current crisis.
Last week the Government brought forward a package of measures to protect renters:
“From today (26 March 2020) landlords will have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy) – this means the landlord can’t apply to start the court process until after this period.
“This extended buffer period will apply in law until 30 September 2020 and both the end point, and the 3 month notice period can be extended if needed.
“This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, and all grounds of evictions. This includes possession of tenancies in the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988. After 3 months if the tenant has not moved a landlord needs to apply to court in order to proceed.
“From tomorrow (27 March 2020) following a decision by the Master of the Rolls with the Lord Chancellor’s agreement the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in the system or any about to go in to it can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted.”
You can read the announcement in full here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
Tenants remain liable for their rent and should continue to pay as usual, but support is available for those who are struggling. Tenants are advised to speak to their landlord in the first instance. Other current support includes:
- As part of the workers’ support package, the Chancellor announced the government will pay up to 80% of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per month, where workers are placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
- Both Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will increase and from April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.
However, my Labour colleagues and I know that this is not enough for many and we continue to push the Government for a suspension of rental payments. Locally, in conjunction with my MP neighbours Ellie Reeves and Janet Daby, Lewisham Council and Len Duvall AM, I wrote to all Lewisham estate and lettings agents to urge them to support renters. You can read the letter here: https://www.vickyfoxcroft.org.uk/in-lewisham-deptford/2020/03/24/letter-to-all-lewisham-estate-and-letting-agents/
Any constituents who continue to experience difficulties are welcome to contact my office. My team and I will do all we can to assist.