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Dire eviction warnings proved to be wrong

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Warnings of a surge of evictions following the partial lifting of the repossessions ban in September last year proved to be unfounded, The National Residential Landlords Association has pointed out.

Data published by the Ministry of Justice shows that in the fourth quarter of 2020, the number of claims made by private landlords in England and Wales to repossess properties fell by 37 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, it said. This is despite the courts beginning to hear possession cases again following a six month stay on proceedings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of possession claims made under the accelerated procedure, used by both private and social landlords, also fell by just under 43 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Overall, across the whole of 2020, the number of claims by private landlords to repossess properties fell by 48 per cent, with the number of claims made under the accelerated procedure fell by just over 52 per cent.

The figures show that landlords have prioritised sustaining tenancies during the pandemic, said NRLA. But it warned that the scale of the rent debt crisis now engulfing the sector means that without further government support, landlords will be hard pushed to continue that support.

‘Today’s figures show that despite fears to the contrary, landlords have prioritised sustaining tenancies and supporting renters during the pandemic’, said NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.

‘That said, they cannot continue indefinitely going without receiving rent. Bans on repossessions are only leading to tenants accumulating more and more debt which will become impossible for them to pay back. This will eventually lead to many more losing their homes..

‘The Government needs to get a grip and do something about the debt crisis renters and landlords are now facing. A package of hardship loans and grants is needed as a matter of urgency. To expect landlords and tenants simply to muddle through without further support is a strategy that has passed its sell by date’.