Restrictions on landlords evicting private and business tenants in England have been extended for another three months, the government has said.
The ban has already been extended several times during the pandemic, and the current one was due to expire at the end of March.
However, ministers have indicated that this could be the final extension and have promised to implement a “new approach” after 31 May.
Six months’ notice
Landlords wanting to evict residential tenants will now have to give six months’ notice and will be banned from using bailiffs until 31 May, under the rules. This will apply in all but the most serious circumstances, such as incidents of fraud or domestic abuse.
The protections will then taper off from the start of June.
Meanwhile, landlords will be banned from evicting commercial tenants, including struggling pubs and restaurants, until the end of June.
The decision will help those worst affected by the pandemic, such as hospitality companies, get back to business in May when doors can fully reopen, no earlier than 17 May.
With around 49 per cent of hospitality workers and 36 per cent of retail workers currently renting, the new measures will protect jobs as businesses reopen and many more renters can return to work.
The government has said the extension will ensure residents in both the private and social sector can stay in their homes and have enough time to find alternative accommodation or support as lockdown restrictions start to be lifted.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We’re doing everything we can to ensure businesses get the support they need to get through this pandemic and reopen when it is safe to do so.
“I know business owners will welcome this latest package of support and the breathing space it will give them to prepare for a safe reopening, and, ultimately, to build back better.”
£280 billion business support
Throughout the pandemic, the government has put in place a £280 billion package to support businesses and to keep people in work so they can continue to meet their rent and other outgoings, including a six month extension to the furlough scheme and Universal Credit uplift.
For those who require additional support, the government has also made £180 million of funding for Discretionary Housing Payments available this year for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.
Ensuring that renters remain protected until the end of May, whilst national restrictions remain in place, will help reduce pressure on essential public services the country moves out of lockdown.
Ministers will “consider the best approach to move away from emergency protections from the beginning of June, taking into account public health advice and the wider roadmap”.
However, this has led to warnings from campaigners that the support does not go far enough.