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Tenant Eviction: Coronavirus Act 2020

Volume 677: debated on Tuesday 9 June 2020

What discussions he has had with the (a) judiciary and (b) Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the exemptions on evicting tenants under the Coronavirus Act 2020. (902960)

The Government took the necessary action through the Coronavirus Act to ensure that landlords could not start proceedings to evict tenants until at least September, and on Friday, at my request, the judiciary passed a new rule to protect renters by making sure that evictions would be suspended until 23 August. I intend to introduce the necessary secondary legislation. The Housing Secretary and I will continue to work closely with the judiciary and others to protect vulnerable renters.

I do not want anyone to be unfairly evicted at such a difficult time, but could my right hon. and learned Friend offer guidance on two constituents who have written to me separately as landlords, the first having served notice to quit on a tenant whose behaviour had become very nasty, and the second on a heavily pregnant lady who had to return home from working abroad when she was repatriated during the health crisis and who, along with her family, is now unexpectedly homeless?

My hon. Friend knows that I am more than happy to hear more detail about those individual cases if he writes to me this week. On the general point, I can assure him that this was not a matter I took lightly. I am bearing very much in mind the issue of small landlords in particular and—shall we say—egregiously continuing breaches, which is why we excluded, for example, trespassers from the provision, because clearly there is a social necessity to deal with them. Other measures are also available to deal with antisocial behaviour, but I will look at the two cases he raises.

Given the capacity constraints on the judicial system at the moment, which are of concern to many of my constituents affected by similar issues to those outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Gareth Bacon), will my right hon. and learned Friend give consideration to relaxing the mandatory retirement age for magistrates so that the loss of our valued local administrators of justice can be stemmed and additional capacity be allowed in the system for the foreseeable future?

Your non-intervention, Mr Speaker, shows how ingenious Members of Parliament can be in weaving in themes to questions. I admire my hon. Friend’s tenacity. He will be glad to know that we will shortly be consulting on the retirement age not just for magistrates but for the judiciary in general. I am grateful to him.