This letter from a Minister dated 18 May 2020, says ‘landlords should be able to carry out routine as well as essential repairs’, making prior arrangements with any households isolating or shielding sick and vulnerable people. It includes guidelines for how work should be done and tenants protected: see links in the document including Coronavirus (Covid19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants.
We can’t leave our safety to chance – so demand your landlord agrees in advance to stick to the guidelines, and agree a procedure if these are broken. All workers in our blocks and homes need to work safely or not at all.
Work on high rise blocks with unsafe cladding or insufficient fire safety, ‘remains a top priority for the Government’, it claims. (So why are there still at least 357 blocks still with Grenfell-style cladding, and 11,000 blocks with risky cladding, two years on from the Grenfell fire?)
This letter, with important information, has not been sent to any of the 4 million+ tenants so far – so we are publishing it to ensure we can prepare and protect ourselves.
A Homes for All survey is gauging how Coronavirus is affecting its supporters, families and communities. Initial results, from 101 respondents , confirm that Covid-19 is deepening a housing crisis that’s been growing for years. The survey results show:
25% have lost all or some of their income. 9% have had to claim Universal Credit. 15% are struggling to pay rent/mortgage. 10% have fallen into arrears. 17% are worried about falling into arrears.
Private renters are most, and disproportionately affected by the crisis:
39% have lost all or some of their income. 70% are struggling to pay the rent. 50% have fallen into arrears. 73% are worried about falling into arrears.
By comparison, although 28% of those who’ve lost all or some of their income are council tenants, their secure tenancies appear to reduce anxiety at falling into arrears.
Eileen Short of Defend Council Housing (part of the Homes for All alliance) says: “These results are very worrying. They tally with other research showing we’re heading for an explosion of evictions and homelessness unless government takes urgent action to protect tenants who can’t pay the rent due to the Covid crisis. The results also show council housing is the only truly secure affordable rented housing, especially in a crisis. That’s why we’re demanding action to ensure 100,000 new and reclaimed council homes a year as part of the recovery plan.”
As London Renters Union’s Amina Gichinga says: “After lockdown ends, it could go two ways. Renters could face the chaos of rent debt and evictions. Or they could be safe from eviction and able to afford necessities like food and rent.
“That’s not much to ask – but for it to happen, the government needs to suspend rent payments, cancel rent debt and make the evictions ban permanent. Ultimately we need rent controls and more council housing.”
Behind the statistics are people’s lives. Among some of the responses to the Homes for All survey: “It is hard not having any face to face contact with family/friends, as I live on my own in a flat. Also, I do not have a garden or balcony, which increases the time I have to stay inside.”
(15% of responders reported lack of access to open space.)
“I have constant anxiety and fear about money and housing security.”
“I am classed as vulnerable. I’m over 65 and Diabetic. I live in an overcrowded house with one son sleeping on the settee and working making cardboard boxes for lamp shades and another son, a bus driver whose been furloughed.”
“On 27 March, Haringey Council’s management company closed the concierge service and reduced the cleaning service in blocks (no more weekly cleaning of stairways landings and corridors). The risk of infection is obvious.”