Many landlords, tenants in house-shares and neighbours of anti-social tenants will be filled with despair at the latest news that there may be a three-month extension to the current three-month moratorium on evictions in the private rented sector.
The announcement was made by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick during a virtual Q&A with MPs on the department’s parliamentary select committee.
Justice delayed is justice denied and never more so than in the case of letting houses; when a tenant isn’t paying, the debt increases every day the tenant remains in situ. This is completely different to pursuing fixed debts, where a delay may be stressful, but not more costly.
Landlords will not be surprised by the announcement however. It is such an easy option and just the latest evidence of the Government treating private landlords as though their concerns are irrelevant. With the current three-month ban, the Government has already forced landlords to keep people in their properties when they are not paying the rent. This is a gift to the large sub-section of deliberate defaulters who think ‘why pay if they can’t evict me?’.
Of course there are tenants who are genuinely struggling to pay their rent and who have always been decent and reliable. These invariably are finding ways to meet their obligations and work with their landlords. What is of concern is the behaviour of those who were facing eviction before Covid-19, often after lengthy court processes and already thousands of pounds in arrears and those who see this as a chance to take advantage.
There are also those tenants who are receiving Government assistance but not using it to pay rent as they heard the Government mention ‘three-month mortgage holidays’ and landlords’ obligation to pass on this ‘gift,’ when it is a highly problematic rent deferral and not a holiday at all. A huge number of tenants have wrongly got the message that they now don’t have to pay, largely thanks to the Government.