01 Jul 2020

A pro-tenant campaign group has this morning kicked off its campaign to have the eviction ban – already extended until late August – extended further or even made permanent.

Generation Rent, with a new leader in the form of ex-Labour peer Baroness Alicia Kennedy, today claims that homelessness will treble this year “unless the government acts to end the rent debt crisis faced by private renters.”

The group says that there is no protection beyond late August for renters who are in arrears, which it claims have risen from four per cent of tenants before the Coronavirus pandemic to 13 per cent now.

The increase in arrears is despite the government’s increase to Local Housing Allowance to cover 30 per cent of homes.

The group claims evictions of those now in arrears “could make 45,000 households homeless, costing councils an extra £117m in temporary accommodation and other support.”

Although it gives no indication as to how it has reached this figure, it suggests that 592,000 renters are behind on rent payments in England alone and include students, non-UK nationals with no recourse to public funds, and people with savings exceeding £16,000 but who can’t access it, as well as those whose rent is higher than the LHA.

Generation Rent is therefore demanding:

  • a new Coronavirus Home Retention Scheme, which would clear rent arrears not covered by the welfare system by guaranteeing landlords’ income up to 80 per cent of the rent;
  • the suspension of evictions for rent arrears arising due to the pandemic;
  • higher Local Housing Allowances “so that people aren’t left destitute or forced to borrow or run down savings to keep a roof over their head.”

Baroness Kennedy says: “There is a rent debt crisis and renters are at risk of losing their homes. The government has already intervened to stop businesses from going under, and mortgage holders from losing their homes. They need to give the same protections to renters who still face losing their home or going bankrupt as a result of rent arrears. 

She continues: “There are too many holes in the welfare system and our package of measures would ensure no renter faces destitution or becomes homeless due to Covid-19. 

“But with the economy contracting, the government should not be expected to sustain rent levels set when the economy was strong. That’s why we propose that landlords would only be guaranteed up to 80 per cent of their rent.”

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