Thousands of renters face the prospect of losing their homes when the rental eviction ban lifts next month unless the government takes urgent action to better support tenants facing financial hardship, it has been claimed.
Renters across England and Wales received greater protection in mid-June after the government extended the suspension of new evictions until the latter part of next month, taking the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months. The move was designed to ensure that renters continue to have certainty and security during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But last month, the government confirmed that its ban on evictions due to the coronavirus pandemic would come to an end on 23 August, allowing landlords to start proceedings to evict tenants if deemed necessary.
With the government now easing lockdown measures, there is growing concern among some organisations, including StepChange and Generation Rent, that many renters may now lose their homes.
The debt and housing organisations have written an open letter to the housing secretary expressing their concerns.
StepChange CEO, Phil Andrew, said: “The coronavirus emergency has wreaked havoc on people’s finances – it’s not right that this turmoil should be accompanied by the threat of eviction. The government has shown through the announcement of its Breathing Space scheme, that it recognises the importance of allowing those in financial difficulty the space to recover. People who have fallen into rent arrears during the pandemic need the same respite.
“The government can grant them this space by making the legal changes needed to safeguard against unjust evictions and should also consider how it can help tenants pay off arrears where coronavirus has left them with no chance to repay. The knock-on consequences of debt and eviction can be severe for individuals and threaten to undermine the economic recovery for everyone. The government must act to prevent this.
StepChange and Generation Rent are urging the government to commit to greater protections for the estimated 590,000 people who have fallen into rent arrears and are facing housing insecurity during the pandemic.
To give people space to recover, the letter recommends that plans to end Section 21 evictions must be accelerated, as well as urging temporary changes to Ground 8 to give courts discretion to suspend a possession order in cases where arrears have built up.
Generation Rent Director, Alicia Kennedy, said: “Over half a million households are behind on their rent and people are terrified about losing their homes.
“The government must prevent Section 21 no fault evictions or Section 8 evictions for rent arrears built up during the pandemic.
“Renters urgently need reassurance that they will not lose their home due to the economic shock of Coronavirus, as the government promised in March. The government must use the final days of parliament to ensure that no home is at risk.”