Eviction ban extension still not enough to satisfy campaigning critics

Campaigning organisations that demanded an extension to the evictions ban imposed because of the Coronavirus crisis have been quick to return to claims that tenants face continued hardship – even though the ban has now in fact been extended.

As we reported last Friday evening, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has given the ban a two month extension.

However, Shelter chief executive Polly Neate says the move is merely a stop-gap.

“The ban hasn’t stopped people who’ve lost their jobs during this pandemic from racking up rent arrears. Even if they have a plan to pay them back, these debts will throw struggling renters straight back into the firing line of an automatic eviction as soon as the ban does lift” explains Neate.

“It’s critical that Robert Jenrick uses this extension wisely to change the law and properly protect renters. Judges must be given the power to stop people losing their homes because of coronavirus, otherwise the country will face a tidal wave of homelessness after the summer” she continues.

“Sooner or later, the government has to stop kicking the can down the road.”

And Generation Rent tweeted: “The eviction ban has been extended and you can safely stay in your home until August … This crisis isn’t ending anytime soon and millions of renters are still struggling with debt.

“We need long-term rent relief and a permanent end to unfair evictions, but this step will keep renters in their homes, for now.”

Meanwhile Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, has issued a statement saying: “Extending the pause on repossession action is important recognition from the government that many renters are facing real hardship during the coronavirus outbreak, and will give thousands of people a welcome breathing space.

“But simply extending the pause of repossession is a sticking plaster not a cure. People who have fallen behind on rent arrears and those who have been furloughed or lost their jobs will need the security of proper reform to the rules governing evictions.

“We look forward to working with the government in the coming weeks on changes to make sure they keep their promise, that no renter should lose their home because of Coronavirus.”

Over the weekend the National Residential Landlords Association produced survey results showing that there never had been any eviction threat of the kind claimed by campaign groups prior to the ban’s extension.

In an independent survey conducted with over 2,000 tenants across England and Wales, 90 per cent said that they had paid their rent as usual since the coronavirus crisis began.

Most, 84 per cent, had not needed to ask their landlord for any support. Of those that did ask, three quarters received a positive response.

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