Campaigners and a debt charity are urging the government to protect those at risk of eviction, after the rental eviction ban is lifted on August 23.
StepChange Debt Charity and Generation Rent have published an open letter warning that temporary adjustments to the eviction process need to be accompanied by legal changes giving tenants more time to pay down arrears.
The organisations fear that without this, many people are at risk of losing their homes when the rental eviction ban is lifted.
The organisations claim that 590,000 renters have fallen into arrears and are facing housing insecurity. StepChange estimates there are 3.8 million people borrowing to make ends meet.
StepChange chief executive, Phil Andrew, said: “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. The government can grant those in financial difficulty 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.”
Generation Rent director, Alicia Kennedy, said: “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.”
The open letter has been sent to Robert Jenrick, secretary of state for the for the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The letter urges the government to ensure that steps being taken, to protect vulnerable tenants through changes to the Civil Procedure Rules on evictions, have the legal backing to fulfil on the government’ promise that “no-one who has lost income because of coronavirus should be evicted from their home.”
To give people space to recover from economic effects of the pandemic, the letter recommends that plans to end Section 21 evictions of the Housing Act 1988 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.