Those renting their homes across England and Wales who may have struggled to make their monthly rental payments during lockdown will enjoy greater breathing space following the government’s announcement that it is extending the suspension of all eviction processes until August 23.

Made public on June 5 by housing secretary Robert Jenrick, the two-month extension takes the halt on evictions to five months in all, based on the underlying principle that no one will lose their home this summer due to the coronavirus. Court hearings on evictions won’t be held until late August, effectively making proceedings impossible before September 1, while the prospect of a further extension has not been ruled out.

This decision applies to both social and privately rented accommodation. It is aimed at safeguarding those who may have lost work or money due to the pandemic, or been furloughed, or who may be shielding at home because of added health complications.

The government announced the original 90-day pause on evictions on March 27, and it had been due to come to an end on June 25, when landlords could have started or resumed legal proceedings for tenants to be removed.

At the same time, the government has now said courts should serve as a ‘last resort’ for landlords, who, it stresses, should exhaust all other options first, including flexible payment plans for overdue rent, before turning to the legal system.

Ministers add that they are working with legal organisations and the advice sector so courts can better address everyone’s needs, and to give judges all the information they need to make the right, fair decisions so that the most vulnerable tenants receive the support they require.

Housing charities and tenants’ campaigners have welcomed the extension as a ‘stop-gap’ which offers potentially much-needed breathing space to anyone renting who may be in financial difficulty.

For their part, groups representing landlords have, while welcoming the prevention of genuinely ‘no fault’ evictions, argued that further delaying the removal of tenants who may, for example, be displaying anti-social behaviour, could harm landlords’ livelihoods.

Additionally, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has stressed that its figures show that its members are in fact already working closely with any tenants who may be facing problems in keeping up with payments.

And its chief executive, Ben Beadle, has pointed out that some landlords could be facing up to five months with no rent, since it’s not possible to act against anyone who was already behind on payments before lockdown began.

The NRLA has further called on the government to outline its proposals for Britain’s rental market once the extension ends, to avoid what it sees as potential damage to the sector. It stressed that, to be able to provide affordable housing, landlords need confidence that they will themselves be supported.

Finally, as part of the recent announcement, mortgage payment holidays have also been extended to help landlords whose tenants may be struggling financially because of the coronavirus.

The local picture

At Oakfield Estate Agents, we’re well aware that everyone, tenants and landlords included, is potentially financially affected by this health crisis. So we welcome the protection of some of the nation’s most vulnerable renters at this extremely challenging time, during which we wouldn’t want to see anyone losing their home.

But while tenant safety and security must be the priority, we’re also working with landlords across our areas of Bexhill, Eastbourne and Hastings, and are on hand during these unprecedented times.

Oakfield chief executive Neil Newstead says: “We’re very happy to talk to any of our tenants or landlords who may be experiencing problems, and can offer informed advice on the best way forward.

“Right now, for various reasons, we’ve been particularly busy on the rental side, across the areas in which we operate, and we expect that to continue in the months ahead. Renting your next home is particularly beneficial for anyone wanting flexibility. And at Oakfield we work hard to offer security both to those letting out and those renting, for peace of mind that their home, income and rental property will be safe.

“We’d love to hear from anyone looking to rent in any of our areas, or those who have a house or flat to let out in our part of East Sussex.”

How we can help

Oakfield is especially keen to hear from landlords, since demand for rental homes locally is currently very strong.

Neil Newstead adds: “As soon as properties become available, we’re contacting clients who are registered with us and who we think may be interested, and sending out pre-application forms. We’re finding most people are placing holding deposits even before arranging a viewing. We’d strongly advise anyone looking to move not to hang around but to speak to one of our experienced negotiators as soon as possible if they’re serious about securing a property.

“And of course, with a video viewing, you can do that without having to see a place in person first, saving time.”

We offer tenants and landlords a huge amount of information, tools and benefits, including rent calculators, zero deposit renting, transparent fees and stringent vetting for peace of mind before we agree a tenancy with anyone.

Browse the relevant sections of our website today, and get in touch by email in the first instance to talk to us in more detail.