Evictions for domestic violence should be priority when ban ends

16 June 2020, 06:52

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) claimed property owners are currently "powerless" to tackle some tenants&squot; behaviour
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) claimed property owners are currently "powerless" to tackle some tenants' behaviour. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Court eviction hearings for anti-social behaviour and domestic violence should be prioritised when the repossessions ban lifts, as landlords complain they are "powerless" to tackle poor behaviour.

Earlier this month, the Government extended the ban on evictions in England and Wales by an additional two months meaning property owners can not take legal action until the end of August.

“Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus,” the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, tweeted.

According to research by the University of Bristol, 38 per cent of victims of domestic abuse live in private rented housing.

The charity Refuge, which runs the Domestic Violence Helpline, has said that there has been a 66 per cent increase in calls to the helpline during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In March the Government brought in emergency legislation banning landlords from servicing tenants during the coronavirus crisis as many struggled to pay rent and mortgages due to the impact of the lockdown.

Now the body which represents landlords has said property owners are "powerless" to tackle poor behaviour by tenants.

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The Government pledged millions of renters across England and Wales will receive more protection due to the suspension of new evictions until August 23 - with Ministers working to ensure judges have the information needed to make just decisions and ensure the most vulnerable tenants can get help.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) said the extension to the eviction ban would increase the impact of victims of anti-social behaviour and domestic violence.

It comes after charities reported an increase in demand for domestic abuse helpline during the lockdown.

Housing charity Shelter previously said that some families had been "only weeks away from losing their homes".

The NRLA said that in cases of domestic violence, landlords will often end the tenancy agreement and offer a fresh one, for the same property, to the victim, independent of the abuser.

Chief executive Ben Beadle said: "Extending the evictions ban is not without victims. It leaves landlords powerless to tackle the kind of behaviour that causes untold suffering and hardship for many communities and tenants alike.

"These cases must be given top priority by the courts and their processes enhanced to avoid further delay once they start to deal with possession cases."

Cllr David Renard, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: "We are pleased the Government has acted on our call to extend the current measures to protect tenants from eviction, which will provide reassurance that they will not lose their home because of coronavirus.

"Councils have been working closely with tenants who are experiencing financial difficulties, with many already suspending debt recovery and trying to use discretionary funding to support struggling households as quickly and effectively as possible.

"The continuation of these measures will help to mitigate against the rising homelessness pressures that councils are under as a result of the pandemic."

He added that police powers enable domestic violence perpetrators to be removed from properties.

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