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Tenants advised: 'eviction restrictions don’t mean you can stop paying rent’

Published: Friday, 25th September 2020

The Government’s ban on evictions put in place to protect tenants during the coronavirus outbreak came to an end on Sunday, 20 September.

Even though new measures mean most tenants are still safe from eviction until at least the new year, Stoke-on-Trent City Council is stressing this does not mean they can stop paying their rent.

The measures will mean that landlords are required to provide tenants with six months’ notice, apart from in exceptional circumstances where serious issues such as domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour or rent arrears of more than six months are involved. These regulations will be kept under review by the government and any decisions made will be in line with the latest public health advice. Proceedings that had started before the ban came into place in March can now restart.

However, it is essential that tenants to continue to pay their rent during this period to ensure that they do not risk losing their home when the extended notice period ends.

Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for housing and environment said: “We welcome the extension of the notice period for evictions which will provide much needed peace of mind for many tenants who may be struggling during the pandemic. However, this does not mean that tenants can stop paying their rents - evictions are only deferred, so if tenants start to build up arrears now the courts will have no option but to grant a landlord possession when proceedings are heard.

“Unfortunately, we have evidence that some of our own tenants have fallen into arrears over lockdown, and private landlords are telling us the same thing. It is vital all tenants continue to pay their rents as failure to do so will result in them becoming homeless, and with over 2,000 people on the waiting list for council housing, it is very unlikely we will be able to help with providing a council home. It will also be very difficult for tenants with a history of arrears to get another private tenancy.

“I want to reassure tenants that help is available from the city council and our partners where people may be struggling to pay their rent. I would advise anyone in this position to talk to their landlord as soon as possible, and if necessary seek further help and guidance immediately. Letting arrears build up means they could become a bigger issue that could have been avoided.”

Simon Harris Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent said “If anyone is concerned about rent arrears or receives threats of eviction or court action from their landlord then they should get advice as soon as possible. The earlier we can get involved then the better the chance we can keep them in their home and avoid the stress, hassle and disruption of an eviction. We would especially encourage anyone whose landlord is trying to get them out without going to court to get in touch urgently as this may well be illegal.”

Tenants having difficulty paying their rents or who are struggling with any other issues they may have with their tenancy can contact Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent CAB on 01782 408690 or go to http://www.snscab.org.uk/ .

Advice is also available from the city council’s Housing Solutions Team on 01782 233696, or you can go to https://www.stoke.gov.uk/info/20006/housing_and_neighbourhoods/26/homeless_or_at_risk for more information.

More information on the six month notice periods can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jenrick-extends-ban-on-evictions-and-notice-periods

For all media enquiries only please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232395.

Further support for council tenants is available from the Income Advice Team on 01782 234234.