The Generation Rent pressure group, fiercely critical of agents and landlords in recent months, wants the government to implement a 12 month ban on rent increases.
It says renters have been hit hard by the Coronavirus crisis and claims that “every day” it’s hearing from people who have landlords compromising their safety or “who have applied for mortgage holidays but are still refusing to pause rent payments.”
The group adds that despite government help for tenants - effectively a ban on evictions for three months and changes to housing benefit - renters are still “extremely worried.”
It continues: “We urge the government to act now to avoid a homelessness crisis as a result of the pandemic. Housing is a public health issue - renters need safe and secure homes to self isolate in to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.”
Its demands are:
1. A ban on in-tenancy rent rises for a year: “This would prevent landlords from forcing tenants to leave their home as a result of an unaffordable rent hike. A rent increase would force tenants to move out and landlords should not be taking this opportunity to increase their earnings.”
2. End Section 8 evictions for rent arrears accrued during this period: “Amending Section 8 to state that rent is not lawfully due for arrears related to coronavirus means preventing people from losing their homes due to the pandemic. Arrears accrued during this period should not affect a tenant’s credit score or affect their ability to rent again in future.”
3. End Section 21 evictions: The group says “no fault evictions are a leading cause of homelessness and we are asking for their suspension. If Section 21 notices remain valid, all other efforts to ensure security will be undermined.
4. Increase Local Housing Allowance and remove the benefit cap: “LHA currently won’t cover the majority of renters’ housing costs. Raising the allowance to cover the average local rent would prevent many renters from facing a shortfall. The household cap and London cap on LHA should be lifted, as should the restrictions on migrants and those with savings above the current threshold.”
5. End the five week wait for Universal Credit: “The wait to receive benefits pushes renters into arrears. We are proposing changing the Universal Credit Advance Payment into a grant to ensure renters have access to benefits immediately.”