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Housing

Charities call for new eviction ban for second English lockdown

The Big Issue has joined campaigners in calling on the housing secretary to suspend “no-fault” evictions and protect people who have fallen into rent arrears during the pandemic

Housing charities have called on the Government to renew its ban on the mandatory eviction of tenants from their properties as England enters a second lockdown to protect against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Big Issue has joined six other charities in urging housing secretary Robert Jenrick to reinstate the halt on so-called “no-fault” evictions or cases where tenants have fallen behind on their rent payments.

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The economic impact of the pandemic has meant that two million renters are now seeking state support, the letter’s signatories say, and there could be as many as 700,000 tenants falling into rent arrears in the next 12 months according to the London School of Economics.

A “no-fault” eviction occurs when the landlord does not need to give a reason for taking back their property and turning out tenants.

“For this second lockdown, mortgage holidays and credit holidays have been extended, but courts continue to evict tenants,” reads the letter.

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“Rather than facing lengthy and expensive court proceedings, thousands of renters will be packing up and searching for a new home, putting themselves and others at risk at a time when we are being asked by the government to stay at home. A month-long pause on bailiff action will be of little comfort.”

Representatives from The Big Issue, Generation Rent, Nationwide Foundation, Z2K, Advice 4 Renters, Renters Rights London, Safer Renting, Cambridge House have all signed the letter.

Recent analysis by Generation Rent suggested that some 40,000 renters could face eviction over the winter.

The Government banned mandatory evictions in England and Wales between March and September but tenants who have lost their jobs or wages as a result of the pandemic have been left without protection as the second wave looms and winter draws in.

Read the full letter below:

Today, the country is back in lockdown. Yet this time there is no Government action to help private renters stay in their homes.

2 million private renters are now claiming state support, but the money is not sufficient to cover average rents. Thousands more are ineligible. Eviction notices have been dropping through the letterboxes of renters who have struggled to keep up with payments, through no fault of their own.

For the first national lockdown, the Government did the right thing. They paused all court proceedings, meaning no evictions could take place. They have since extended notice periods, and requested that bailiffs do not enforce in areas of local lockdown, as well as over Christmas.

For this second lockdown, mortgage holidays and credit holidays have been extended, but courts continue to evict tenants.

Rather than facing lengthy and expensive court proceedings, thousands of renters will be packing up and searching for a new home, putting themselves and others at risk at a time when we are being asked by the government to stay at home. A month-long pause on bailiff action will be of little comfort.

As the number of Covid-19 cases, and deaths from the disease, are rising fast, it is essential that renters – especially those who are vulnerable or shielding – can remain safely in their homes. To do this, the Government must pause all eviction proceedings, and ban landlords from serving section 21 no-fault eviction notices or serving notices under section 8 for rent arrears relating to coronavirus.

The Government has done the right thing before. We call on Ministers to act swiftly, to ensure that no renter loses their home due to covid-19.

Yours Sincerely,

Alicia Kennedy, Generation Rent

Michelle Simpson, The Big Issue

Bridget Young, Nationwide Foundation

Anela Anwar, Z2K

Jacky Peacock, Advice 4 Renters

Portia Msimang, Renters Rights London

Roz Spencer, Safer Renting, Cambridge House

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