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Covid leads to illegal eviction fears

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Illegal evictions have increased by as much as 50% in some areas since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, housing experts claim.

illegal evictions

The reports follow the six-month ban on evictions in England, which ended on 20 September. Although landlords are now able to begin eviction proceedings, they must give tenants six months’ notice to quit in most cases.

Illegal evictions take place when landlords force tenants to leave the property, rather than seeking possession by legal means through the courts. Usually, illegal evictions involve changing the locks or removing a tenant’s belongings. However, there have been reports of more serious cases involving violence and threatening behaviour by rogue landlords.

There are estimates that hundreds of thousands of tenants could fall into arrears if there is a second Covid spike, and when the furlough scheme ends in October. This, coupled with the new six-month notice period and pressure on the court system, mean housing experts fear an increase in landlords taking matters into their own hands.

According to solicitor Giles Peaker, the government’s eviction ban has failed to confront a growing problem with rent arrears. “There are a number of problems with what the government has done. They haven’t dealt with the underlying issue of rent arrears at all. They’ve effectively punted the problem further down the line.”

Data from the tenant advice service Safer Renting shows that there have been almost 1,000 illegal evictions in London over the past 15 months, with a 50% rise in cases since March. The majority of these are in outer-London boroughs, but the organisation has also been called about central properties, including one in Mayfair.

Landlords who are prosecuted for illegally evicting their tenants face an unlimited fine and a two-year prison sentence.

Read more about this story in the Independent.

Neil Jennings

Neil is the Operations Director at Assetgrove Lettings, London's Leading Rent Guarantee Company, providing Landlords with no voids, property maintenance, fee-free property management and stress-free service.

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