Tenants turning to Citizens Advice as pandemic protection for renters comes to an end

citizens adviceINCREASING numbers of private tenants are turning to Citizens Advice for help, as the protections put in place for renters during the pandemic come to an end.

Citizens Advice’s online housing advice has been viewed more than two million times in the first four months of the year.

In England, the ban on most bailiff-enforced evictions came to an end on Monday, May 31, while the notice period landlords need to give their tenants is reduced from six to four months.

Citizens Advice data shows:

  • Eviction issues from tenants in private rented accommodation have increased by 17 per cent comparing January – April 2021 versus 2020.
  • Requests for help with all problems in the private rented sector including disrepair have increased by 36 per cent.
  • Almost one in 10 private renters (over 350,000 tenants) are behind on their rent.
  • Average rent arrears have risen by 24 per cent from £730 in November 2020 to £907 in April 2021.

Common questions

If a tenant is issued with a notice seeking possession by their landlord, what should they do?

The first thing is to get some advice about whether the notice is valid.  A landlord notice doesn’t automatically mean an eviction can go ahead.

If the landlord doesn’t follow the process to the letter of the law, tenants may be able to successfully fight an eviction.  If that’s not possible, a court may make an order for possession.

Only when the date set for possession by the court has passed, can the landlord apply for bailiffs to carry out an eviction.

What should tenants do if they’ve already received a notice that an eviction will be carried out by bailiffs?

There were some circumstances in which evictions were allowed to take place while the ban was in place – including more than six months of rent arrears. But if you are being evicted due to one of these reasons, you will still get 14 days’ notice.

Kiara’s story

Kiara, came to Citizens Advice for help when her employer made her redundant. She has been applying for many jobs, so far without success. She is a lone parent with three young children.

Kiara said: “When I told my landlord that I was no longer working they said that they would not be able to renew my tenancy as I no longer earned enough to cover the rent.

“Universal Credit caps the amount that is paid, so I would always be in arrears. I later received a Section 21 notice to leave the property.”

Kiara was signposted to her local council for homelessness help and eventually was able to secure emergency accommodation before finding somewhere to live permanently.

Citizens Advice fears that, with the ban on evictions coming to an end, stories like Kiara’s will become more common.

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Next week, the sticking plaster applied to the English private rented sector during the pandemic will be ripped off. Ending the eviction ban puts thousands of renters at risk of losing their home.

“The government should put in place a system of grants and government-backed loans for renters in England who are still financially struggling because of COVID-19.

“The lack of security renters in England will face from Monday is a symptom of a longer term problem where tenants can be evicted without cause.

“The government has committed to ending no-fault evictions and it’s vital this is urgently enshrined in law in their forthcoming reforms to the private rented sector.”

Bridport & District Citizens Advice offers comprehensive advice on housing, benefits and other issues. Telephone freephone 0800 144 8848 or send an email using the contact form on the website www.bridportca.org.uk

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