The ban on tenant evictions, which was set to expire on Monday 23rd August, has been extended for a further four weeks until 20th September.
The government also said that it will require landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all cases except those arising from serious issues such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March.
The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick also said that after September 20th, the courts would prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as those where landlords had not received rent for over a year and would otherwise face unmanageable debts.
He 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 4 week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for 6 months.
“I am also increasing protections for renters – 6 month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.
“However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again; and so when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases.”
Councils had warned that hundreds of thousands of people could be at risk of eviction if the stay on possession proceedings introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic came to an end on 23 August.
The cross-party District Councils Network suggested that nearly half a million – who pay over half their income on rent - could be at risk of eviction.
In a report, District councils and the private rented sector, the DCN, which represents 187 district councils in England, said 108,000 lone parents with children and a further 100,000 aged 16-24 could be at greatest risk of losing their homes.
The Network also cited figures from Citizens’ Advice showing an estimated four million have fallen behind on rent, council tax or a telecoms bill.
Neil Lawlor, a partner at national law firm Devonshires, said: “The concern that we have for our registered providers clients is that the ban on evictions does not seem to differentiate between the types of possession claims. While it is understandable that there is a desire to prevent the eviction of tenants based on arrears that have arisen due to Covid, not all possession claims occur because of this.
“As a result claims that are entirely unrelated to the pandemic have also been put on hold, the obvious example being that cases that are dealing with ongoing and serious anti-social behaviour. This blanket ban seems disproportionate and that needs addressing.”