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An eviction ban was designed to protect those who are renting across the country, and was first introduced in March. But from September 20, this eviction ban will finish, potentially leaving some private renters in limbo. Amid challenging circumstances for many, Citizens Advice have offered helpful pointers to those who may be worried about what the future holds.
Amy Hughes, Housing Expert at Citizens Advice, explained that first it was important for renters to find out where they are in the process as a whole.
She said eviction from a privately rented home involved three stages: serving a tenant with a notice, going to court to get a possession order, and finally, applying for a bailiff visit for eviction.
Finding out where a person is in this process is vital, as it will give renters a time frame and show them when they may need to take action.
Secondly, for those who have not received a notice, speaking to a landlord may help matters.
This is because a person may be able to come to an arrangement with a landlord to pay less for a certain amount of time, if explaining the impact of COVID-19 on finances.
A third point of consideration is for those who have received a notice, with Ms Hughes explaining: “The rules on the notice your landlord must give have changed – it may now be up to six months depending on when the notice was served.
“The notice must also be in a specific form, so make sure you have a copy and get it checked. If the landlord hasn’t followed other rules during your tenancy this might also mean that the notice is invalid.
“Your landlord can only make a claim to court after notice ends. You don’t need to leave by this date, but going to court might mean costs are added to your debt if the notice is valid.”
Courts are due to start hearings again on September 20, which is momentous for many renters.
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Returning a defence form, Ms Hughes explained, will allow the court to consider evidence, and even potentially allow a person extra time in the property.
Evidence of information a person gave to their landlord about their financial difficulties should also be presented.
Finally, in circumstances where a possession order is granted, a person will usually have two to six weeks to leave the property.
If a decision was already made before the eviction ban started in March, a person may be given 14 days notice after September 20 that bailiffs will be carrying out an eviction.
In this instance, people are urged to see immediate help from Citizens Advice or another housing charity about whether an eviction can be prevented or delayed.
Advice can also be given about finding alternative accommodation if the worst happens and a person is evicted.
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, urged the government to take action to protect Britons
She said: “Neither renters nor landlords can afford to be saddled with long-term arrears as a result of coronavirus.
“The government must urgently consider direct financial support to help renters clear their debts and stay in their homes, and so make good its promise that no renter will be evicted because of coronavirus.”
As the eviction ban ends, tenants will need to adjust to new circumstances.
Elisabeth Kohlback, CEO of Skwire, a property investment firm, also commented on the eviction ban, however with a different perspective.
She said: “Ending the eviction ban this weekend is the right decision. Although on the surface it may seem a blow to renters facing ongoing uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, without the specific legislative measures in place to truly and fully prevent evictions, the temporary ban has left tenants at continued risk.
“Were the ban to continue, the burden would weigh ever more heavily on the many landlords across the UK who depend on rental income for their livelihoods.
“While tenants themselves have been able to rely on pandemic assistance, such as furlough pay, landlords have, throughout the pandemic, had no government support.
“The eviction ban has served neither landlord nor tenant and any continuation or extension would be short-sighted.”
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