Other countries — including Britain, Spain and Australia — similarly imposed measures banning evictions and rent increases for individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic. Some of those programs are being rolled back, and housing advocates have warned that millions of European households risk losing their homes in the coming months as a result.
Here’s where some of these measures stand in comparison with the United States.
In mid-June, Westminster extended a ban on evicting businesses behind on rent because of the coronavirus until March 2022. The moratorium, in place since April 2020, had been due to expire at the end of the month in England, Wales and Scotland. But as coronavirus cases rose in June, pressure grew on the British government to extend the protections, given the continued economic pressures businesses were facing.
The government, however, chose not to extend a ban on eviction proceedings for residential tenants, which expired May 31 in England and June 30 in Wales. Scotland extended the ban in hard-hit areas until at least March. Northern Ireland has required landlords to provide 12 weeks’ notice before evicting a tenant through September.
The moratorium in England will be gradually scaled back in many cases: Under the initial stay, for example, tenants had to be notified of an eviction six months ahead; then, in June and July, that period was reduced to four months, and, as of August, it will be shortened to two months. Several programs offering financial support to tenants have been extended until the end of September.
Spain in July extended a moratorium on evicting vulnerable people — such as those who are dependents, victims of sexual violence or minors — until the end of October, at the earliest. The measure also provides a framework for tenants economically hurt by the coronavirus to apply for a rent reduction. Utility providers are barred from cutting off service to households covered by the moratorium and unable to pay their bills.
The measure, first passed in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, has been extended several times and was set to expire Aug. 9.
The protections, however, have not stopped all people from losing their homes. About 11,200 people were evicted in the last three months of 2020, according to official statistics, the Guardian reported in June. Housing advocates have called for a revision of the criteria to broaden who is covered under the moratorium.
When the pandemic began, Australia issued a six-month moratorium on evictions, which it then extended until the end of March this year. During that period, tenants financially hit by the coronavirus and unable to pay rent were protected from losing their homes.
When the moratorium expired, the government said it would implement a six-month “transition period” to help those unable to pay rent. But with outbreaks fueled by the delta variant putting some cities and communities back under lockdown, housing advocates have called for additional protections.
“What we’re particularly worried about is the rate of debt that people are accruing,” Leo Patterson Ross, CEO of the Tenants’ Union of New South Wales, told Australia’s SBS News. “Our housing market is a competitive sport, so if you’ve got any kind of black mark, any kind of thing that puts you at the bottom of the list, it makes the task of finding a new home really, really difficult.”
This report has been updated.