Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that new evictions will be suspended for another two months, as ministers grapple with the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
No-one in England and Wales will be forced from their home this summer due to coronavirus, Mr Jenrick said.
His department estimated that the move could help millions of renters.
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Under the plans, ministers will extend the moratorium of new evictions until 23 August, an extra two months.
In total the suspension on evictions will last at least five months.
The policy has been designed to help renters whose jobs have been hit by the global pandemic.
But it has been criticised as a ‘stop gap’ that does nothing prevent people racking up huge debts while Covid-19 closes thousands of workplaces across the country.
Ministers say landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options, including flexible payment plans, before going to the courts later this year.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said the announcement had bought families who were only weeks away from losing their homes a vital stay of execution.
“But it’s only a stop-gap,” she warned.
“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. Judges must be given the power to stop people losing their homes because of coronavirus, otherwise the country will face a tidal wave of homelessness after the summer. Sooner or later, the government has to stop kicking the can down the road.”
It is understood the government wants to transition out of the current measures at the end of August, to “allow the market to operate”.
Mr Jenrick said his department was also working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions do restart arrangements are in place to help give “appropriate protections” to those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding.
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