For the pandemic period, a “new normal” has been in place. This new normal has included an unprecedented financial package from the government to help individuals who have lost their incomes to support themselves and find new work. One helpful measure has been the “eviction ban” that prevents landlords from evicting tenants who can’t pay their rent. But as the pandemic nears its end this ban has been lifted prompting concerns on both sides of the divide. IN this article we look at the views of both landlords and tenants, each of whom has equally valid views on the government’s latest pandemic decision.
The view of tenants
As the Covid-19 pandemic draws to a close the government has decided to curtail the ban on evictions put in place during the pandemic to protect the homes of tenants. Under this law, tenants are not able to pay the rent due to pandemic circumstances – job loss or furlough – we’re not legally obliged to leave the property – that is no longer the case.
As of May 2021 landlords with tenants who do not pay rent or are in substantial arrears can be evicted from the property. This means that those who have suffered a loss of income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and were not able to pay rent, as a result, might now find themselves homeless.
Who is affected?
According to recent reports, the lifting of the eviction ban could affect up to one million people in the coming weeks and months. It’s estimated that 400,000 people have already been served with an eviction notice by their landlords as a result of unpaid rent or rental arrears. This could precipice a housing crisis.
The pandemic has rocked the country as a whole and uncertain times lay ahead, but for renters, with low paying work or zero-hours contracts, their position was already precarious. The eviction ban was a lifesaver for many people as it allowed them some breathing space after losing a job and going onto benefits. While many of those people now have paid work again, rent arrears still put them at risk of eviction.
A housing crisis
Those same people who are only now getting back on their feet now have to stress about whether they will have a bed to sleep in after their shift or if they have to find a way of securing a new property on a low-income wage. Up to a million people are expected to be affected by the lifting of the eviction ban, raising the thorny question of where they are expected to go.
The view of landlords
When the pandemic struck it is fair to say it affected everyone. It’s also fair to say that the response to the pandemic was fair to governments, individuals, businesses, and landlords. It’s hard to imagine a landlord objecting to the eviction ban in the first few months of the pandemic. But now things are different.
As the pandemic grinds on and things appear to be looking more promising with the rollout of several vaccines, the government has decided to lift the eviction ban and give landlords the power to demand their rent from tenants once again. This has not been easy for tenants with high arrears but there are good reasons for it.
It’s easy to take the side of tenants who have been affected by the pandemic and can’t pay rent temporarily, it’s even easier to take their side when the landlords in question are portfolio landlords with many properties on their books. But that isn’t always the case, and in fact, the majority are single property owners.
Single property owners use the rent from their tenants to pay for their own mortgage, so when this isn’t coming in their mortgage stops. With the eviction ban in place, landlords were finding that tenants didn’t respond to letters asking for rent because they knew they were safe from eviction – some even told their landlords to take mortgage holidays.
As we leave the pandemic and the eviction ban is lifted it would seem to spell the end of a difficult financial time for landlords – but that isn’t necessarily the case. If tenants don’t pay their rent the landlord will be forced to evict them and shoulder the weight of arrears there are owed. Under present circumstances, there is no guarantee of a new reliable tenant either. What is needed is a benefits package from the government to help tenants pay landlords in the short term.
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