National debt charity StepChange and housing campaign group Generation Rent have joined forces to urge Robert Jenrick MP to ensure that no-one who has lost income because of coronavirus will be evicted from their home after the rental eviction ban is lifted on 23 August 2020.
In a joint open letter, the organisations warn that unless temporary adjustments to the eviction process are accompanied by legal changes giving tenants more time to pay down arrears, many people risk losing their tenancies when the rental eviction ban is lifted.
StepChange and Generation Rent urge the Government to commit to greater protections for the estimated 590,000 people who have fallen into rent arrears and are facing housing insecurity during the pandemic.
To give people space to recover, the letter recommends that plans to end Section 21 evictions must be accelerated, as well as urging temporary changes to Ground 8 to give courts discretion to suspend a possession order in cases where arrears have built up.
“The coronavirus emergency has wreaked havoc on people’s finances – it’s not right that this turmoil should be accompanied by the threat of eviction,” says StepChange CEO, Phil Andrew.
“The Government has shown through the announcement of its Breathing Space scheme, that it recognises the importance of allowing those in financial difficulty the space to recover. People who have fallen into rent arrears during the pandemic need the same respite.”
Phil Andrew, StepChange
“The Government can grant them this space by making the legal changes needed to safeguard against unjust evictions and should also consider how it can help tenants pay off arrears where coronavirus has left them with no chance to repay,” warns Phil.
“The knock-on consequences of debt and eviction can be severe for individuals and threaten to undermine the economic recovery for everyone. The Government must act to prevent this.’
Generation Rent Director, Alicia Kennedy, says, “Over half a million households are behind on their rent and people are terrified about losing their homes.”
“Renters urgently need reassurance that they will not lose their home due to the economic shock of Coronavirus, as the government promised in March,” continues Alicia.
“The government must use the final days of parliament to ensure that no home is at risk,’ Alicia concludes.
- Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is the notice that allows landlords to regain possession of a property without having a specific reason or ground for possession (also known as a ‘no fault eviction’). Ground 8 of the Housing Act 1988 is the mandatory grounds for eviction in the Housing Act 1988 relating to rent arrears.
If a tenant has more than 2 months arrears at the time of the notice and the hearing, the courts do not have the power to waive the notice.
About StepChange Debt Charity
StepChange Debt Charity is the UK’s largest debt advice charity, contacted by around 600,000 people a year and providing free, full, independent debt advice to more than 300,000.
Founded in 1993, StepChange supports people experiencing debt problems through telephone and online services, and campaigns for change to reduce the harm and stigma associated with debt.