When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the government announced a temporary ban on evictions in the private rental sector to prevent tenants from being made homeless at a time when they needed to stay in place. However, whilst the ban has protected vulnerable tenants, it’s also given some tenants a free pass to engage in anti-social behaviour and stop paying their rent, without fear of being evicted any time soon.
The initial ban on evictions was for three months – March to June. This has since been extended for a further two months. Landlords will now have to wait until the end of August to issue an eviction notice to tenants. And, to add insult to injury, it could take many months to be awarded a repossession order, due to the huge backlog of cases stuck in the housing court system.
The NRLA is concerned that ultimately, it will be tenants who end up suffering the ill-effects of the eviction ban. Ben Beadle from the NRLA says many landlords will lose confidence in the private rental sector if they can’t evict non-paying tenants or tenants who persist in engaging in antisocial behaviour to the detriment of the local community. The fewer landlords willing to let properties, the harder it will be for low-income tenants to find a suitable home to rent.
Most Tenants Have Been Able to Pay Their Rent
Despite the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NRLA says most tenants have been able to continue paying their rent. Of the 16% of tenants who have struggled, 75% of them have been able to work it out with their landlord.
This gives credence to the assertion that most landlords are willing to be flexible to keep tenants since it is beneficial to all parties if a reliable, long-term tenant can continue with their tenancy.
Sadly, not all landlords have had a positive experience.
Pre-lockdown Eviction Stalled by Rogue Tenants
One poor landlord (TK) issued an eviction notice to his tenants last October, so he could move back into his property when his second child was born. Unfortunately, the tenants refused to comply with the notice, even though they were made aware at the start of the tenancy the property was only available as a short-term rental. Because of coronavirus, TK has been unable to pursue the matter through the court. Meanwhile, his tenants have stopped paying the rent and are living footloose and fancy-free while he is stuck living with his wife, his parents, a toddler, and a baby in a cramped house.
TK has offered to help the tenants find somewhere else to live, but they won’t budge. Why would they?
“The tenants know they can’t be evicted right now, and they’ve been causing a nuisance to some of the neighbours – which I really want to be able to do something about, but I simply can’t.”
Debt Cases Must be Prioritised
The NRLA says pre-lockdown debt cases must be fast-tracked when the housing courts finally reopen for business. This would help landlords like TK, whose tenants stopped paying the rent prior to COVID-19, to regain possession of their properties sooner.
As TK says: “The possession is not linked to coronavirus so why should I be in this situation?”.
Domestic Violence and Anti-social Behaviour Problems Exacerbated by the Ban on Evictions
The NRLA is also calling on the government to prioritise domestic violence and anti-social behaviour cases when the ban on evictions ends. It says many victims are stuck living with or next door to their abusers because the landlord can’t evict the perpetrator.
“This is a total disaster. I’m living in a shared house with a nightmare tenant. We all want her gone, as does the landlady. Her anti-social behaviour is driving us and the neighbours up the wall. She was due to go on 1st July. I can’t put up with it for another two months,” said one tenant on Twitter.
Have you had any similar experiences with nightmare tenants? Are you waiting to serve an eviction notice once the ban is lifted? If so, let us know by getting in touch on Facebook or Twitter. We would love to hear more about your experiences.
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