Earlier this week the Chancellor announced “payment holidays” of up to three months for mortgages to help people during the coronavirus pandemic. While welcome, I’m hearing that people are currently having trouble getting through to their banks to set up these payment holidays, and I’ve also had a lot of correspondence asking what the government is doing for renters.
The government has now announced some measures designed to protect renters affected by COVID-19. They are bringing forward emergency legislation so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period so that no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.
There will be a moratorium on all new evictions and guidance has been issued stating that existing eviction processes should be dealt with appropriately, prioritising people’s health. The government has worked with the Master of the Rolls to widen the ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings, to include private renters and to strengthen its remit. This is designed to support the necessary engagement between landlords and tenants to resolve disputes and landlords will have to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in.
The government has also confirmed that the three-month mortgage payment holiday announced previously will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus. This is designed to alleviate the pressure on landlords and will mean no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result.
The government has also allocated £3.2 million of initial emergency funding to support rough sleepers if they need to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This funding will be available to all local authorities in England and will reimburse them for the cost of providing accommodation and services to those sleeping on the streets to help them successfully self-isolate.
While these measures are welcome, I’m concerned the emergency legislation the government is promising to stop evictions isn’t included in the Coronavirus Bill (which we should be debating and voting on next week). I’ll be asking the government for more information on how their promises will be put into action to seek assurances for renters in my constituency.