Campaigners against evictions during the Coronavirus crisis have launched a last-ditch call for the government to grant another extension to the current ban.
Courts are scheduled to resume possession cases next Monday, some six months after they last considered eviction cases; the government last week made a further concession in the shape of a ‘winter truce’, obliging agents and landlords in England to give six months’ notice of possession to tenants, and pledging a general commitment not to evict over the Christmas period.
However Generation Rent’s director - Baroness Alicia Kennedy - says: “It is welcome that renters will not face eviction by bailiffs around Christmas or where there are lockdown measures. But outside that, thousands of renters who have had eviction notices during the pandemic still have no assurance from the government whether they can stay in their home.
"Those who have lost income will find it difficult to find a new home so face many months of uncertainty, getting deeper into debt. The government must offer them more support than a Discretionary Housing Payment pot that was set up before the pandemic hit.”
Tenants organisation ACORN says: “The latest figures show thousands of people at risk and this is likely to spike as the furlough scheme comes to an end and many more people may struggle to pay their bills. We are in the middle of a public health emergency and people being made homeless could increase the risk of Covid-19 cases.”
Jon Sparkes, Crisis chief executive, adds: “As jobs cuts are coming in thick and fast, we know that tens of thousands of people may struggle to find somewhere cheaper to live even with six months’ notice. The government still has time to intervene and protect people from being swept into homelessness. We urgently need renters who are struggling to afford their rent and in arrears given financial support from government.”
Campaigning charity Shelter has repeated its four-point call for help for renters in what it calls ”a national emergency.”
It wants increased housing benefit to cover the cost of average rents plus a lift in the benefit cap so people can access this money; judges to be given powers to ensure no-one is evicted “as a result of Coronavirus”; financial support for private renters to help they pay off arrears built up during the pandemic; and emergency accommodation for anyone with nowhere safe to stay.