Changing guidance on evictions

If you are a Greater Manchester resident and you have been served with an eviction notice, you may wish to get in touch with GMLC at housing@gmlaw.org.uk, or call 0161 749 2244. If you are outside Greater Manchester, you may wish to contact a law centre local to you or call Shelter’s legal advice line. You may also wish to contact a local tenants’ union, as a branch local to you may have support available for challenging or resisting evictions.

At the moment, due to the changing rules and guidance, we strongly recommend contacting a free legal advisor if you are worried about being evicted. 

Who has some protection as a result of COVID-19?

At the beginning of the pandemic the government and the courts took urgent action to protect tenant and home owners losing their homes during and as a result of COVID-19.

In September 2020, the courts started issuing and hearing possession cases again.

It is now only the very last stage in the eviction process, the eviction by court bailiffs, that remains suspended for most cases, and this suspension is only until 31 May 2021.

The suspension on bailiff eviction is only a pause, not a real protection.

If you receive Notice from your landlord, or a possession claim from the court, it is really important to get legal advice as soon as possible to see whether you can defend possession proceedings and protect your home.

If you are at risk of eviction because of rent arrears, check out our Protect Your Rent Payments page for further advice.

Who has no protection?

People who have received a possession order on grounds of

  • trespass
  • anti-social behaviour, nuisance, false statement or domestic abuse
  • rent arrears (and where arrears are now more than 6 months)

are excluded from the suspension of bailiff evictions and can now be lawfully evicted with a court warrant.

Throughout the pandemic, people who had the least protection against eviction before the pandemic have had no additional legal protection. There are the people who can be lawfully evicted without an order for possession from the court, and include:

  • Lodgers
  • Homeless people who have been given temporary accommodation until they receive a duty decision
  • People living in Council or housing association hotel accommodation
  • Some people where accommodation is part of their employment.

The Home Office continues to evict asylum seekers from asylum accommodation when their claims for status are successful, but most other asylum support evictions are suspended for the time being.

Get urgent legal advice if you are one these people and are threatened with eviction.

What happens if landlords try to evict unlawfully?

There is a very real risk that bad landlords may try to get round the temporary legal protection against eviction and force tenant to leave by making threats, changing the locks or cutting off services.

Get urgent legal advice to know your rights, warn your landlord, apply for an injunction to stop your landlord attempting to evict you or for an order to get you back into the property. If you are a Greater Manchester resident, contact housing@gmlaw.org.uk or call 0161 749 2244.

Unlawful eviction is a criminal offence. If you need to stop an eviction that is happening, you should call 999.

The Debt Respite Scheme

As of 4 May 2021, you may be entitled to get some ‘breathing space’ on your debts, including rental debt, under the Debt Respite Scheme. ‘Breathing space’ lasts for up to 60 days, and it gives you legal protections from creditor action for up to 60 days. The protections include pausing most enforcement action and contact from creditors and freezing most interest and charges on debts. The period of ‘breathing space’ aims to give you time to speak to a debt advisor and find another solution before your landlord can take action against you. This includes a ‘stay’ on possession proceedings, which means that it will delay court action if you are facing eviction.

A period of ‘breathing space’ may be applied by one of the following parties:

  • a debt advice provider who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to offer debt counselling
  • a local authority (where they provide debt advice to residents)

Get in contact with your local authority or an independent debt advisor to discuss your options.

 

 

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