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Letter to the Guardian
You will be aware that the government has again extended the eviction ban on private and social renter evictions until May 2021. However, government loopholes are allowing evictions to go ahead, such as if the landlord has proven tenants’ anti-social behaviour or at least 6 months’ rent arrears. This is despite the housing secretary Robert Jenrick’s promise that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”.
This is impacting over 750,000 households throughout England who are in arrears and in a state of constant fear of becoming homeless due to the government’s short-term approach and shifting regulations in dealing with what is a national housing crisis.
- The pandemic has had the greatest impact on the lives of working-class people, including key workers, disabled people, BAME households and those in precarious employment, who have suffered disproportionately in terms of poor health, poor housing, and extreme hardship. Even landlords’ groups such as the National Residential Landlords Association are calling on the government to offer greater support to both landlords and tenants.
Numerous renters’ and housing groups are calling for no evictions during the pandemic and for financial support to help renters pay off arrears. We are therefore calling on Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to implement the following recommendations:
· Extend a full moratorium (ban) on evictions until March 2022.
· Write off arrears accrued during the pandemic until March 2022.
· Central government to develop an emergency financial package for tenants and landlords to stop evictions.
As Shelter points out, “Massive rent debt will make it impossible for many to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the pandemic”. We call on the Prime Minister, Cabinet and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to step in now and support legislation to ensure no-one loses their home or incurs rent debt due to the Coronavirus crisis.
John McDonnell MP, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and former Shadow Chancellor
Diane Abbott MP, Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987
Ken Loach, Film Director