A group of private rental activists says Labour proposals to give tenants two years to repay arrears accrued during the virus period do not go far enough.
Amina Gichinga of the London Renters’ Union says: “Deferring rent just means renters will get into enormous debts - or be made homeless. Unemployment is going to rocket and we are not going to be able to afford a massive hike in our rent over two years.
“We need rents to be suspended during this crisis, and the evictions ban needs to be permanent, so no one else is made homeless because of the pandemic.
“The downturn is going to continue for a long time and many people are already in arrears. Without greater protection for renters, we’re heading for a chaotic rent debt and eviction crisis.”
Labour wants tenants running up arrears during the Coronavirus crisis to have two years to repay them, as part of a five-point ‘emergency action plan’.
It claims that current measures set out by the government in the Coronavirus Act fall well short of adequately protecting people from homelessness when they cannot pay their rent.
And Labour’s new housing spokeswoman, Bristol MP Thangam Debbonaire, says her party would use temporary legislation to protect tenants from bankruptcy and homelessness due to rent arrears.
Labour’s stance appears to have been backed by an influential charity, Citizens Advice.
It says many households need what it calls “further help and more time” to get their finances in order.
“Renters and council tax payers who are falling behind on payments face a cliff edge when a temporary pause on payment enforcement comes to an end. The government needs to take action to make sure people don’t face eviction or harsh debt collection for falling behind on bills due to Coronavirus“ says Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.