Fears of evictions ‘tsunami’ as Covid protections are lifted

Calls for landlords and tenants affected by virus crisis to get more financial support

Friday, 19th February 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Ann Bevington

Ann Bevington: ‘There will be many tenants in Islington who are struggling financially because of the pandemic and are now at risk of losing their homes’

RENTERS could be caught in a “tsunami” of evictions as protections given to them amid the coronavirus crisis run out.

A ban on evictions has been extended until March 31, but lawyers warn that this only applies to ones that use bailiffs.

Ann Bevington of solicitors Hopkin Murray Beskine based in Fonthill Road, Finsbury Park, said: “My colleagues and I are seeing cases where the court has no discretion and has to make an outright order requiring tenants to leave. Depending on the level of the arrears it is possible the tenant could be evicted before the end of March.”

She added: “This is even before evictions are currently set to resume properly in April. There’s a lot coming down the line and we are expecting a tsunami of cases.”

Ms Bevington is calling for more financial support for landlords and tenants who have been affected by Covid-19.

“There will be many tenants in Islington who are struggling financially because of the pandemic and are now at risk of losing their homes,” she said.

“Although most evictions have been paused until the end of March, changes to the rules last month mean that if there are significant rent arrears greater than six months’ rent, even if they are related to the pandemic, evictions can take place now.”

Solicitors are also warning the legal system could be hard to navigate for clients. Hearings are currently taking place over the phone.

Lesley Curtis, from the same firm, said: “Currently court hearings are taking place by telephone where decisions are being made which will result in the loss of a home.

“We are concerned that although tenants are entitled to free advice at these hearings, they may be finding the system hard to navigate and that while there is a right to ask for a face-to-face hearing the process may be difficult to understand.”

A Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We’ve put households right at the heart of our decision-making, spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, protect incomes and boost welfare support.

“Robust protections put in place by the government remain – with the vast majority of renters still subject to six months’ notice periods, while the ban on bailiff evictions in all but the most serious circumstances will stay in place until at least March 31. Councils can also provide additional support to renters through the £180m Discretionary Housing Payment scheme.”

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