Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced a two-month extension to the government’s ban on evicting renters amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
New evictions in England and Wales of tenants in both social and privately-rented accommodation will be suspended until 23 August.
“No-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus,” Mr Jenrick tweeted.
But housing charity Shelter said the announcement was “only a stop-gap”.
The extension will run from 25 June, the end of the the three-month period originally announced as part of emergency coronavirus legislation in March.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said it would benefit “millions of renters”. Government support for renters during the pandemic was “unprecedented”, Mr Jenrick said.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The government has reset the clock on the evictions ban, buying the families who were only weeks away from losing their homes a vital stay of execution.
But she said: “The ban hasn’t stopped people who’ve lost their jobs during this pandemic from racking up rent arrears. Even if they have a plan to pay them back, these debts will throw struggling renters straight back into the firing line of an automatic eviction as soon as the ban does lift.
“It’s critical that Robert Jenrick uses this extension wisely to change the law and properly protect renters,” she added.
Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Simply extending the pause of repossession is a sticking plaster not a cure. People who have fallen behind on rent arrears and those who have been furloughed or lost their jobs will need the security of proper reform to the rules governing evictions.
“We look forward to working with the government in the coming weeks on changes to make sure they keep their promise, that no renter should lose their home because of coronavirus.”
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Recent research by the District Councils Network suggests more than 486,242 households are spending more than half of their income on private rented housing, which could be at risk when the evictions ban is lifted.
The network, which represents 187 local authorities in England, says single parents with children, young people and households on low incomes are particularly in danger of being tipped “over the edge” into homelessness.
It called for a permanent boost to housing benefits for those in private rented homes and more funding for councils to fight homelessness, build homes and create jobs.
The MHCLG said it was working on new rules “to ensure vulnerable renters can be protected appropriately” when the halt on evictions ended.
But the National Residential Landlords Association called for the government “to set out its plans for the market at the end of this one-time extension.”
Chief executive Ben Beadle said: “A failure to do so will cause serious damage to the private rented sector as a whole.”
He added: “It will ultimately be tenants who suffer as they will find it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing if landlords do not have the confidence that they will get their properties back swiftly in legitimate circumstances.”