YESTERDAY (Thursday, September 17) in Parliament, Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana called for “urgent” measures in support of private renters before the eviction ban ends on Sunday (September 20).
The Labour MP addressed the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, highlighting that an “estimated 320,000 private renters have fallen into rent arrears during this pandemic”, as reported by the housing charity Shelter and that when the eviction ban ends “hundreds of thousands are at risk of eviction and tens of thousands are at risk of homelessness.”
To protect renters in Coventry South, Ms Sultana urged the Government to “extend the evictions ban for at least a year, scrap no fault evictions as promised in the Tory manifesto, and cancel rent arrears.”
In response, Jacob Rees-Mogg highlighted the “generosity” of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit and said “there is a balance to be struck between landlords and tenants”.
Following her question, Ms Sultana said: “Private renters in Coventry South need a government on their side, but instead we have a government that is lifting the eviction ban just as the second wave takes hold.
“Urgent action is needed to stop tens of thousands of people being made homeless and many others from being pushed into poverty as they attempt to pay off rent arrears.
“The eviction ban must be extended, no fault evictions scrapped, arrears cancelled, and rent controls brought in to rebalance the market in favour of tenants.”
Three weeks ago six leading organisations representing tenants, landlords and letting agents united to urge the government to provide financial help to private renters plunged into ‘Covid rent arrears’ through no fault of their own.
The coalition, which includes Shelter, the National Residential Landlords Association, ARLA Propertymark, Crisis, Citizens Advice and Generation Rent, is calling for a short-term package of emergency grants and loans worth £270 million to help renters who have lost out on income or been furloughed as a result of the pandemic.
Despite recent government efforts to increase housing benefit rates to cover the bottom third of private rents, the coalition report thousands are still falling through the gaps in the welfare safety net.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Ever since this pandemic gripped hold of the country, causing chaos for hundreds of thousands of renters, our services have been deluged with calls from worried families and workers plunged unexpectedly into debt. When the ban lifts, their ability to clear Covid-arrears will be critical if they are to stay safe in their homes.”