Ministers have extended the ban on landlords evicting tenants in England and Wales until 20 September, following fears thousands could lose their homes, according to the BBC.
In most cases, until the end of March, renters will also get six months’ notice if their landlord plans to evict them.
Courts had been due to resume cases on Monday after a five-month pause.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the latest announcement just gave “renters a few more weeks to pack their bags”.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he was “supporting renters over winter” amid the ongoing effects of the coronavirus outbreak adding that, when the ban was lifted, the most serious cases of anti-social behaviour, other crimes, and unpaid rent for over a year would be heard first.
One landlords’ group described the blanket extension as “unacceptable”.
Before the pandemic, notice of eviction was usually two months. In Wales, that had already been extended to six until the end of September and remains under review.
In Scotland, a proposal for six months of notice until March requires approval from the Scottish Parliament, and laws in Northern Ireland include a 12-week notice period.
A survey by homelessness charity Shelter suggested that more than 170,000 private tenants have been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent, and 230,000 in England have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started.
Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “It is right for the government not to lift the ban when it risks exposing people to eviction and the threat of homelessness with no means of defence.
“The government must use this short window of time wisely to put proper safeguards in place for renters.”
Health bodies had warned that homelessness or moves that resulted in people living in overcrowded accommodation could risk higher numbers of Covid-19 infections. Politicians have now called for more than the latest extension to the ban.
Labour’s leader, Sir Keir, said “Such a brief extension means there is a real risk that this will simply give renters a few more weeks to pack their bags.”
He described the move as an “11th-hour u-turn” and said Prime Minister Boris Johnson had “stuck his head in the sand” for months, adding: “The ban should not be lifted until the government has a credible plan to ensure that no-one loses their home as a result of coronavirus.”
The former Conservative Communities Secretary, Lord Pickles, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that the ban should be extended into next spring.
He said “periodic” extensions were “pointless” without further legislative action to give tenants more security.