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Government “thinking carefully” about future of eviction ban

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick says the government is “thinking carefully” about what more it can do for private tenants, especially after the eviction moratorium finishes.

Jenrick, addressing the House of Commons yesterday afternoon, responded to a series of questions from Labour MPs about tenants potentially running up arrears.

The housing secretary said that the moratorium expired at the end of June; shortly before that time he would make a decision based on the state of the market, medical advice about progress in combating Coronavirus, and any court information about evictions.

One Labour member – veteran MP Clive Betts, who is also chair of the housing select committee – said that in Spain there was a low-interest loan system for private tenants to ensure they and their landlords were in a position to honour rent payments. Betts asked if a similar scheme could be considered in the UK too.

Jenrick did not reject the idea outright and said he and the government were “thinking carefully” about next steps that could help tenants who may be in arrears.

The tone of the answers from the housing secretary suggested there were unlikely to be new announcement on this before the start of next month at the earliest.

In response to this Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent, says: “Lifting restrictions on the lettings market is welcome for thousands of renters who have been stuck in unsuitable homes. But a reopened housing market cannot be an excuse to lift the evictions ban which is in force until late June.

“Despite the furlough and increased housing benefit, 2.6m private renters are at risk of arrears with no way of paying them off once the economy recovers. Just a third of landlords have offered flexibility on rent payments, so most of these renters will face eviction as soon as the ban is lifted.

“The worry and stress of the pandemic is giving renters sleepless nights. Many have difficult decisions to make right now. If Robert Jenrick is developing a plan that will reassure them, we need to know what it is urgently.”

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