MPs fear rise in homelessness when eviction ban lapses
Several MPs are concerned that England could be hit by a “new wave of homelessness” when the ban on evictions ends on August 23.
The evictions ban was implemented as part of emergency Covid-19 mitigation measures, aimed at protecting those who have seen their finances adversely affected by the pandemic.
Evictions in England and Wales had been put on hold until June 25, but the suspension was then extended to August 23.
Meanwhile, the Welsh government has extended its notice period required for evictions issued on or after July 24 to six months, excluding those related to incidents of anti-social behaviour. The government in Scotland has proposed extending its evictions ban until March next year.
Yet, with concerns rising that a wave of evictions in England could come when the ban ends, 21 MPs have called on the government to provide local authorities with funding to be able to accommodate homeless people for a year, citing the “ongoing threat of coronavirus and the risk of a potential second wave”.
The MPs, made up of numbers from the Lib Dems, Labour and one from the DUP, made their request in a letter to minister for rough sleeping, Luke Hall.
It read: “Some local authorities are in the process of confirming and funding accommodation for rough sleepers for another year, however it is so important that all councils are able to provide this.
“We cannot put a cut-off on showing all those in need compassion at this time.”
The government has said that it will “continue to provide appropriate support” to those in need but insisted that allowing eviction hearings to resume is a vital move in protecting the rights of landlords.
It added that new repossession rules in England will provide the protection that renters need when eviction hearings return.
At the beginning of the lockdown in March, councils were tasked with moving homeless people out of communal shelters and off the streets, with 14,500 people provided with emergency accommodation according to the government.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government spokesperson hailed the move as "unprecedented" in helping the most vulnerable at the height of the crisis, saying: "Nearly 15,000 rough sleepers have been housed in emergency accommodation since the beginning of the pandemic.
"We've also ensured no tenants have been evicted at the height of Covid.”
The spokesperson clarified that the new repossession rules in England will require that landlords provide more information about their tenants’ circumstances when looking to evict.
Should this information not be provided or be deemed unable to justify eviction, judges will have the right to adjourn cases.
The Labour Party has hit out at the new rules and is pushing for emergency legislation to help protect renters.
However, the National Residential Landlords Association has been supportive of the government’s move and asked them not to extend the ban, adding that its research shows the majority of tenants are continuing to pay rent, or have made individual arrangements with their landlord to avoid arrears.