Temporary Repossession Ban Extended

In a welcome but temporary respite for mortgage payers in arrears, the government has confirmed an extension of the ban on property repossessions. Previously set for 1st April, the deadline is now 31st May 2021 for residential borrowers.

Until that date, the granting of possession orders to lenders and the execution of warrants will continue to be subject to the moratorium. Similarly, occupants of commercial properties have seen the respite extended by a further three months until 30th June 2021.

Thus, residential owner-occupiers and tenants under threat of repossession now have an additional two months of breathing space. In many cases, individuals and families in financial difficulty have seen their savings deplete due to lockdown, reduced hours of work or job losses – despite the furlough scheme.

Urgent action to prevent homelessness

Chief executive of the Residential Landlords Association, Ben Beadle, welcomed clarification of the gradual withdrawal of emergency measures in the housing rental market as the government eases lockdown restrictions. Nonetheless, he recognised that the extended date for repossession executions would likely do little or nothing to assist those tenants and landlords who are experiencing financial problems.

Mr Beadle suggested that ministers were neither listening nor responding to calls to address the rented property crisis. Following the pandemic that took hold in March 2020, urgent financial aid would be necessary to prevent an increase in homelessness and social difficulty.

Precarious positions

Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, welcomed the lengthening of the ban on bailiff evictions. She emphasised the dangers of letting people become homeless while coronavirus restrictions are still in effect.

However, Baroness Kennedy was concerned that landlords could still serve eviction notices to occupiers of good standing. She also singled out the continuing court processing of eviction applications filed by lenders.

Additionally, government financial support excludes home renters in arrears by more than six months, even if the debt has arisen due to the pandemic. When restrictions lift, such tenants could well find themselves in an insecure situation. Accordingly, she advocated an early parliamentary reading of the temporarily shelved Renters’ Reform Bill 2019-20, which aims to end no-fault evictions under Section 21 of the Housing Act.

Generation Rent represents 13 million private renters throughout the UK. The organisation has campaigned on behalf of the renting public since 2014.

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