The Government has protected jobs, now it’s time to protect homes

Jul 01, 2020 8:39 AM

Coronavirus has created a rent debt crisis. The Government must act now to ensure #NoHomeAtRisk.

Download the report.

Coronavirus has hit the nation's finances, with private renters disproportionately affected. One in eight renters are struggling to pay the rent, and millions more are worried. Boris Johnson yesterday warned that an ‘economic aftershock’ is set to hit the country, and it’s essential that tenants are able to weather this storm.

The government has protected renters from eviction so far, but as we move from the peak of the crisis towards recovery, further support is necessary to ensure private renters are able to stay safely in their homes. The Government has so far strengthened the safety net in an effort to protect renters incomes, but arrears have trebled. Over 120,000 families are in debt, with the eviction ban lifting the week before children are due back at school. Things could get worse before they get better, as the furlough scheme is wound down and economy contracts. But we can fix this.

That’s why, today, we are calling on the Government to end the rent debt crisis and make sure that no home is at risk.

Our demands:

Suspend evictions for rent arrears, to ensure that renters who have lost income due to the pandemic do not also lose their home.

Ensure the benefits system covers housing costs, through restoring Local Housing Allowance to the median rent, removing benefit caps, expanding eligibility, and scrapping no recourse to public funds.

Introduce a new Coronavirus Home Retention Scheme making £750 million of support available to cover lost income and end rent debt.

Our scheme would clear the debts for renters and allow landlords to claim for discretionary payments to cover up to 80% of lost income. This would put landlords on an equal footing with furloughed employees, and would ensure landlords’ incomes weren’t kept artificially inflated by Government money at a time when incomes are falling. Reforming the benefits system would prevent further arrears from building up, and amending the 1988 Housing Act to ban section 8 evictions for rent arrears would ensure no one loses their home as a result of the economic shock of coronavirus.

A secure home provides the infrastructure necessary for those affected by coronavirus to get back on their feet. At a time of great uncertainty, renters need to know that they will be able to keep a roof over their head. Our package of measures would ensure that debts are cleared and renters’ livelihoods recover from this crisis. Renters should not be expected to shoulder the burden of this crisis while landlords’ incomes are protected in full. It’s time for the Government to end the rent debt crisis and make sure that no home is at risk.

Want to help protect renters? Sign the petition and join the movement for a fairer housing system.

For more information on our policies, read the full report here.