Landlords in England and Wales will be unable to evict renters until at least 20 September after the government extended the eviction ban for an additional four weeks.
Under the Coronavirus Act, which was passed in March 2020, the notice period landlords must give tenants if they intend to evict was increased from two months to three.
Now, landlords will need to give tenants six months’ notice if they plan to evict them before the end of March next year.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of COVID-19. That is why today I am announcing a further four week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for six months.
“I am also increasing protections for renters – six month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.
He went on to add that certain cases – for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse – should be heard in court and could be prioritised by landlords when courts reopen.
A six-month extension to the eviction ban was announced in Scotland in mid August, meaning it will now run until March 2021.
A similar law is planned by the Welsh government, but it hasn’t yet been passed. In the meantime, the government has launched a loan scheme for private renters who aren’t on benefits and are in arrears due to the Coronavirus lockdown.
Housing and homelessness charity Shelter welcomes the extension but says government support hasn’t gone far enough. Research carried out by the charity shows 223,000 households in England are now in rent arrears from the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Shelter's Chief Executive Polly Neate said: "It is right for the government not to lift the ban when it risks exposing people to eviction and the threat of homelessness with no means of defence.
"The government must use this short window of time wisely to put proper safeguards in place for renters."
Not everyone has embraced the extension, though. The National Residential Landlords Association described the move as “totally unacceptable” and called for financial support for landlords.