United Kingdom

Landlords must reveal if tenants affected by coronavirus if trying to evict them

Landlords hoping to get rid of tenands who have failed to pay rent when the current evictions ban comes to an end on August 23 will face new restrictions if they want to evict them.

Once the eviction ban is lifted, landlords can once again start court proceedings against tenants - something that has been barred during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, new measures quietly announced by the Government last month mean that the process of gaining possession of their property via the courts will not be the same as before the pandemic.

Landlords will have to submit information about how a tenant's circumstances have been affected by coronavirus

The Government has said that landlords will have to carry out additional processes if they want to evict a tenant.

These will include having to submit any relevant information in their claim about how a tenant's circumstances have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic - and a judge will be able to suspend the proceedings if the information is not provided.

The new procedures will take effect after the end of the current evictions ban on August 23. 

The ban was introduced at the beginning of the lockdown in a bit to protect tenants from being forcibly evicted during the pandemic.

It was initially introduced for three months and then extended for a further two months.

Timothy Douglas, of ARLA Propertymark - the trade body for lettings agents - said he was concerned about how housing possession cases will be managed once the evictions ban ends.

He said: 'It is vital that the Government has a co-ordinated strategy that prioritises the most serious cases and informs the sector about the changes and what landlords and agents need to do.

'This is important because when the courts re-open there will be a backlog of cases and they will take longer to progress. As a result, it will be even more important that landlords and agents follow the new procedures in full.'

ARLA Propertymark added that the Government needs to be looking to support those with rent arrears due to coronavirus.

Mr Douglas added: 'It is important that we take steps back to normality and both landlords and tenants have access to the justice system, particularly in cases where tenants behave anti-socially or have pre-pandemic rent arrears.'

Judges will be able to suspend court proceedings if the information is not provided

Separately, another association - the National Residential Landlords Association - is calling for more financial support for tenants from the Government.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: 'When the courts do start to hear cases again, it is essential that they deal swiftly with the most serious cases, including those where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or where there are long-standing rent arrears that have nothing to do with the pandemic.

'To offer security to tenants and landlords badly hit during the lockdown we are calling on the government to introduce a tenant loan scheme to help pay off arrears built due to the coronavirus.'

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