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Home » Protection for Families in Rented Accommodation

Protection for Families in Rented Accommodation

Jul 27, 2020 | Housing

When lockdown happened back in March, among the many things put into place for families was the
protection that anyone in rented accommodation could not be evicted for three months. This was
extended to the 23 rd August and gave millions of renters piece of mind.

However, as the end of this Government legislation looms, many renters who have accrued rent
arrears for the first time ever, may be again having sleepless nights worried about facing eviction
from that date.

Ministers are aware of this and have been working on new rules to improve protection of these
families, particularly those who are medically very vulnerable and may have been shielding from the
virus.

The rules will ensure that housing court judges have all the information to make decisions on
evictions and will have new powers to ensure that they can help the most vulnerable tenants stay in
their homes.

If tenants are experiencing hardship because of COVID-19, they will be protected from eviction until
the landlord and tenant have ‘exhausted all possible options’ for renters to pay their rent, and it has
been made very clear that cases will only end up in court as a last resort.
New legislation in force from 23 rd August 2020 protects renters when courts resume and will remain
in place until the 28 th March 2021.

The new rules include landlords needing to provide information to the courts about the effect of the
pandemic on their tenants, including whether they are vulnerable, disabled, on benefits and those
who have been ‘shielding’. This will enable the court to make decisions based on their
circumstances.

If you are being taken to court for rent arrears, landlords are required if they can, to produce the full
arrears history in advance, rather than at the court hearing.

There is further advisory guidance to help landlords and tenants understand implications of the
Coronavirus Act 2020. This means until 30 th September 2020 most private landlords will not be able
to start possessions until the tenants has had at least three months’ notice.

East Devon District Council are amongst those councils who may be able to provide support to help
you stay in your home. This might include helping you if you have financial hardship with
discretionary payments. You can apply online for these and of course the Citizens Advice East Devon
can help you access these.

When the courts open, applications to suspend warrants of possession, which the Citizens Advice
East Devon can help with, are going to be priorities, and judges will have in mind public health
guidance and will not make judgements on risks the impact public health.

Remember that at the expiry of your three months’ notice, you do not need to leave your home
without a court order. A landlord will still need to go to court and they have been asked not to
commence or continue eviction notices without good reason. If they do proceed to possession

hearing, the process (which used to take six to eight weeks) is now taking much longer, and whilst
this goes through you may remain in your home.

Anyone receiving any court notices, should contact us at Citizens Advice East Devon as soon as
possible to get the best possible advice to help you. Because of financial implications of these
decisions, we regret that we are unable to offer specific advice to landlords who should consult
the gov.uk website, their landlord association, or their solicitor instead.