Charities have urged the government to ensure people cannot be evicted from their homes during the lockdown.
Generation Rent said the eviction ban, introduced in March before the first lockdown last year, should be reinstated to protect tenants during the restrictions.
The six-month ban, which expired in September, meant landlords were unable to initiate legal proceedings to evict tenants.
At the start of the UK lockdown in November, the government announced new protections for renters to prevent evictions during these restrictions and beyond Christmas – except in the most dire circumstances.
It was said that the courts would remain open, but the evictions would not be enforced by the bailiffs until January 11, next Monday.
The government said the only exceptions would be the “most egregious cases” of tenants guilty of unsocial behavior or domestic abuse in social housing.
Bailiffs are required to give people 14 days’ notice, which means some renters could be evicted from their homes as early as Jan 25 if this protection is not extended.
The government said it is reviewing current measures and will provide more details shortly.
However, the groups said that simply extending the ban on bailiffs’ actions would not be enough, as the courts are still hearing cases and many evicted people will feel pressure to leave their homes before bailiffs interfere.
They are calling on the government to reintroduce the original ban, saying it is too dangerous for people to lose “their only refuge” from rising Covid-19 cases.
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said: “The rapid escalation of Covid-19 cases due to the spread of the new variant means that we must do everything we can to stop the virus from spreading.
“During the initial lockdown, tenants who had received eviction orders still felt the pressure to move out. We therefore urge the government to do everything possible to prevent unnecessary moves by suspending evictions.”
“The government must also prevent landlords from issuing eviction notices.
“Since the initial lockdown, there have been a lot more people who are unemployed and who rely on universal credit rather than vacation. That means a lot of people are facing rent default – we need the government to keep them from falling into rent arrears. “
In addition to the current ban on bailiffs ‘actions, landlords wishing to evict tenants must give six months’ notice by the end of March.
This means anyone who is served a notice now can stay in their homes until July. However, an earlier notice period expires earlier.
“Now is not the time for people to lose their homes”
Polly Neate, General Manager of Shelter said: “We are now in the same, if not worse, situation as we were last March. It is just too dangerous to evict people with such high numbers of Covid cases from their homes.
“You cannot obey orders to stay home when you are displaced and homeless. People are not safe to appear in court, nor is it safe for bailiffs to enter people’s homes and forcibly remove them. There are not enough truly affordable homes for people to move elsewhere, and the councils will not be able to cope with an even longer queue of homeless households.
“Simply put, the government needs to stop the evictions. We all know the country is facing some of its toughest weeks, the Prime Minister himself said. Now is not the time for people to lose their homes – their only refuge from this raging storm. “
Paul Noblet, director of public affairs at Centrepoint, said the government must give tenants the “long-term security they need” while it takes to get vaccinations across the country.
He added that last-minute government decisions to expand protection for renters struggling during the pandemic have become “torture”.
A government spokeswoman said: “We are reviewing the measures currently in place and will provide more details shortly, taking into account the public health recommendations.”