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‘Thousands of renters will face eviction threat’

MP Karen Buck warns three-month ban on out-of-work residents being thrown out of their homes during coronavirus crisis won’t prevent debt piling up

03 April, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Karen Buck: ‘As things stand, many thousands of renters will find themselves in rent arrears over the coming months and facing eviction a little further down the line’

THOUSANDS of renters falling into arrears because of the coronavirus lockdown will face eviction in a few months despite government promises, warns Karen Buck.

The Labour MP for Westminster North warned that prime minister Boris Johnson’s current plans to help out-of-work residents were just “a brief respite” to a huge problem.

She told the prime minister last week how some of her constituents had already been thrown out of homes since strict isolation measures were introduced.

A three-month ban on landlords applying for new evictions has been imposed, but Ms Buck said this does not prevent debt piling up that will have to be paid off somewhere down the line.

She told the Extra: “As things stand, many thousands of renters will find themselves in rent arrears over the coming months and facing eviction a little further down the line.

“The government’s proposals offer a brief respite but no longer-term solution.”

She added that funds were urgently needed to ensure advice and legal sectors are available to help “people facing evictions, debt and disputes with employers over the coming months”.

The London Renters Union has called on the government to suspend all rent payments and to protect people from having to pay big arrears when the crisis has eased.

The group says thousands of people are continuing to have to go to work because of pressure from landlords.

Polly Neate, from housing and homelessness charity Shelter, said: “At Shelter we’re receiving daily calls from people up and down the country who are worried about how they’ll pay the rent, keep the lights on, and put food in the fridge in the coming weeks and months.”

Last Wednesday Ms Buck told Mr Johnson that “people are being evicted now – this week – as a result of losing their income” and from “low-cost hotels” – temporary accomm­odation that have been forced to shut down.

The government in the following days announced a series of measures including allowances payable to private renters in the lowest income.

It is has increased housing benefit and instructed judges and bailiffs not to evict anyone for three months.

But the government’s emergency measures said this “does not prevent a landlord from serving a notice of intention” to evict a tenant, “nor does it end a tenant’s liability for rental payments”.

Announcing the plan in the House of Commons last week, the housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “No renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.”

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