Activists who praised the government for its eviction ban in recent months have now turned on it in a last-ditch attempt to secure another extension.
Last week junior housing minister Lord Greenhalgh announced that “from 24 August 2020, the courts will begin to process possession cases again. This is an important step towards ending the lockdown and will protect landlords’ important right to regain their property.”
This follows five months when evictions were effectively banned in a bid to ease housing issues at the time of the Coronavirus crisis.
The decision to end the ban has drawn fire from campaigners.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, claims: “Thousands off renters are already calling our emergency helpline terrified at the prospect of becoming homeless … Before parliament breaks for the summer the government must give judges the power to consider the impact of the pandemic when deciding if a renter should be evicted.”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, a candidate for the party’s leadership, has branded the decision as “heartless” adding: “The idea that the government wants to restart evictions in the middle of a pandemic is unthinkable. This threatens a wave of homelessness in towns up and down the country.”
She says such a move will create “a toxic cocktail for the disease to thrive.”
And Michael Deas from the London Renters Union says: “The government said no one should lose their home as a result of coronavirus. Now we know those were empty words.
“Many renters haven’t been able to pay rent throughout lockdown. But when the courts reopen, our unfair housing laws mean that landlords will find it incredibly easy to evict those tenants. So if the government sticks to this decision, we could see thousands of people made homeless in September.
“The combination of Covid-19, a broken housing system and a government that always backs landlords has saddled renters with unprecedented and unbearable levels of rent debt. Many tenants have no prospect of paying back their arrears - and that’s no surprise with unemployment rising, especially in hospitality.
“This crisis isn’t going away, so neither should the evictions ban. Many landlords aren’t showing compassion, and they’re not going to start doing so now. The evictions ban must be made permanent.”