Evictions involving domestic violence ‘should get top priority when ban lifts’
Eviction hearings where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence should be given top priority in the courts when the repossessions ban lifts, landlords have urged.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) claimed property owners are currently “powerless” to tackle some tenants’ behaviour.
On June 5, the UK Government announced that the suspension of evictions from social or private rented accommodation would be extended by two months.
It said millions of renters across England and Wales will receive more protection due to the suspension of new evictions until August 23 – and ministers are also working to ensure judges have the information needed to make just decisions and ensure the most vulnerable tenants can get help.
Housing charity Shelter previously said that some families had been “only weeks away from losing their homes”.
But the NRLA claimed on Tuesday that the extension of the ban would compound the suffering of victims of domestic violence and anti-social behaviour.
It pointed out that charity Refuge has reported seeing a spike in demand for its domestic abuse helpline and website.
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.