Activists from a range of pressure groups have reacted angrily to what they call a half-baked eviction ban announced by the government.
Just before the start of the weekend Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a six week extension to the current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, with a review of the measure now scheduled for February 21.
A statement from Lee Burkwood, on behalf of London Renters Union, says: "This isn’t a ban on evictions - it’s a plan for evictions. Landlords will still be able to drag the 840,000 people in rent debt due to the pandemic through the courts. That’s so they can prepare to kick renters out of their homes, as soon as it becomes legal again.
“Just imagine the emotional and financial strain it puts on households: this series of last minute short term pauses on evictions, the constant threat of being taken to court, the ease with which landlords perform illegal evictions - and all that on top of the pandemic and so many people losing work.”
And he adds: “Public health bodies have said that evictions will lead to increased transmission of Covid. If it’s unsafe for people to be evicted now, it’s not going to be safe by February 21? We need a permanent eviction ban, and we need rent debt cancelled, now.”
A statement from Generation Rent’s director - Baroness Alicia Kennedy - says she is disappointed that the ban applies only to bailiff-led evictions.
“Landlords can still serve notice and courts continue to hear cases, putting pressure on renters to move out before the bailiffs arrive, putting their health at risk” she says.
"The Housing Secretary pledged that no one who lost income as a result of the pandemic would lose their home, but half a million households have fallen behind on rent since March and without further support they will get deeper into debt and face homelessness. To keep renters in their homes for the long term, the government needs a plan to help them afford rent and clear their debts” she adds.