These are incredibly difficult times for everyone and naturally people are concerned about the security of their homes especially if income has been cut or lost. On the 19th March, the Government placed a 3 month ban on the issue of new County Court possession proceedings where possession is sought on the grounds of rent arrears. This takes us to the 19th June 2020 but yesterday, the Prime Minister indicated that such period is under review. The period will obviously depend on how long it takes to beat the spread of the virus.
The reduction or loss of income not only presents problems for tenants but also landlords, many of whom have mortgages on the properties they rent. As part of its “protection from eviction” policy, the Government has invited the support of lenders to borrowers by way of mortgage payment holidays.
More than ever, we now need to communicate with each other. This is a time to show compassion where there is genuine hardship. It is not a time to take advantage of the ban on possession proceedings. What we do now impacts on our futures. Once our justice system returns to normality, the conduct of parties during this difficult time will be considered by the courts when being asked to make decisions regarding our homes – which as this crisis has shown, is one of the most fundamental things which keeps us safe and together.
Once the Government lifts the ban on possession proceedings, help will still be available via various advice agencies and our office. During this crisis we can provide Legal aid assistance to those threatened with homelessness. At the moment, Legal Aid is only available to those who rent and in receipt of qualifying benefits or a low wage. However, we are constantly reviewing Legal Aid policy to check whether eligibility is extended to others during the crisis or immediately after it’s passed.
Above all, stay safe and look after each other.
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