Changes in the law will benefit some private tenants, according to Hackney Citizens Advice Bureau.

Before this change, many private tenants whose landlords had not paid the mortgage were evicted with little or no warning. They had very few rights to try and stay in their home.

Mr S, who came to the CAB, had found himself in this situation. He came home from work one day to his privately rented flat in Hackney to find the locks changed and his belongings still in the property. These included his driving licence, tenancy agreement, clothes, belongings and letters from the bank, National Insurance and Home Office. He was just allowed in to get his medication from the fridge.

He had been given no official warning of the eviction from the court and the lender did not even know the property had been let. It took about four weeks and extensive negotiations to get him access to the property and the delay resulted in considerable distress for Mr S. He had nowhere to live and had to sleep on various friends’ floors.

On 1 October 2010, the law changed so that an ‘unauthorised’ tenant (in other words, a tenant not permitted by the lender) may apply to the court for a maximum two months’ delay to the possession hearing date, or if a possession order has already been made, the tenant may ask the lender to postpone eviction for up to two months. If the lender does not agree, the tenant may apply to court to postpone the eviction for a maximum of two months.

These postponements are discretionary – so the court will take the tenant’s circumstances into account before deciding whether to grant one.

On hearing about the change in the law, Mr S commented: “the new law is better for people like me. It would have been much better to have more time to find somewhere to live”.

Michael Foley of Hackney Citizens Advice Bureau says: “Although the new rules do not give full protection to an innocent tenant whose landlord has not kept up with the mortgage, they at least give more time to find an alternative home.”

If you need advice on this or any other area of the law, please visit the East End CAB website and follow the Advice Guide link.

Or you can call the Hackney CAB Advice Line on 0844 499 1195 Tuesday and Wednesday 1-3pm or call into their offices which open Monday to Thursday from 8.30am at 236-238 Mare Street E8 1HE.

Hackney CAB also runs sessions at several children’s centres in Hackney for parents with children under five years old. Please contact your local children’s centre for details.

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