Fears of 'wave of homelessness' when Government lifts ban on rental evictions

2 July 2020, 21:55

Landlords can resume evicting private tenants from next month
Landlords can resume evicting private tenants from next month. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Ministers have been warned a “wave of homelessness” could be triggered once landlords are allowed to resume evicting private tenants next month.

Housing Minister Lord Greenhalgh confirmed the moratorium for evictions from private and social accommodation would end on 24 August.

The measure was brought in to prevent people from being kicked out of properties during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said ending the suspension, which began in March, “is an important step towards ending the lockdown.”

But MPs have branded the move “heartless” and called for its reversal.

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In response to a written parliamentary question, Lord Greenhalgh said: “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.

“Work is under way with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements, including new rules, to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need when possession cases resume.”

Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire called for emergency legislation to protect renters from evictions during the crisis.

“The Government seems to be more interested in protecting landlords’ incomes than preventing families from losing their homes in the middle of a deadly pandemic,” the Labour MP said.

“If things go back to business as usual, many thousands of people will find themselves sleeping on the streets this winter.”

Homeless and housing charity Shelter has warned that lifting the suspension without protecting renters would “unleash a wave of homelessness”.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran told the Mirror: “The idea that the Government wants to re-start evictions in the midst of a pandemic is unthinkable.

"This threatens a wave of homelessness in towns up and down the country which, added to that the threat of local lockdowns, could create a toxic cocktail for the disease to thrive."

She added: "The Government needs to urgently rethink this heartless decision.”

Generation Rent this week warned homelessness could treble this year unless the Government steps in, saying rates of rent arrears have risen from 4 per cent before the pandemic to 13 per cent, which could leave 45,000 households homeless.

The ban on landlords evicting businesses currently ends in September.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We are working with the judiciary to ensure that, as far as practicable, arrangements are in place to give appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus when proceedings start again.

“We have put in place a support package to help prevent people getting into financial hardship or rent arrears which includes help for businesses to pay staff salaries, providing over £6.5 billion to strengthen the welfare safety net and increasing local housing allowance rates so that they cover the lowest 30 per cent of market rents.”