20 September saw landlords breathe a sigh of relief as the six-month tenant eviction ban finally came to an end, with the courts gearing-up to tackle the inevitable backlog.
Although the eviction ban has significantly helped renters who where experiencing financial difficulty, at the same time, landlords have been left powerless to take action against renters committing domestic abuse or making the lives of fellow tenants or neighbours wretched.
The courts have decreed that the cases of tenants blatantly committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence, or where rent arrears were building-up prior to lockdown must take priority. So any cases that are not directly related to Covid-19.
Of course, inevitably there is a backlog of cases. Between January and March, prior to the eviction ban came into effect, some 24,320 claims were made by private and social landlords to repossess property. Furthermore, 8,093 claims led to a repossession order being made and 1,336 led to a warrant being issued for repossession in England and Wales.
“After a six-month ban on repossessions it is important that landlords can start to take action to tackle the most serious cases,” said Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA. “This includes those where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence and situations where rent arrears were building before lockdown and have nothing to do with Covid-19.
Beadle added: “We continue to encourage landlords to work with their tenants to sustain tenancies wherever possible, making use of the guidance we have prepared. To support this Government should follow the example of Scotland and Wales and develop a stronger financial package to help tenants to pay off rent arrears built since the lockdown started.
“Ministers also need to address the crisis faced by those landlords who have rented their homes out whilst working elsewhere. The six months’ notice required in such circumstances freezes them out of accessing their own homes, effectively making them homeless.”