The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has welcomed the Government’s decision to extend the temporary evictions ban, but insists that the ban must continue until robust measures are in place to protect renters once the ban is eventually lifted.
Mayor Biggs has called on ministers to follow proposals from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and introduce a ‘Triple Lock’ protection for renters, including increasing welfare support for renters, suspending the benefit cap, restoring Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to median market rents, scrapping ‘no fault’ evictions and preventing private landlords from evicting tenants who have accrued arrears as a result of Covid-19.
Mayor Biggs has warned that unless these robust measures are in place to protect renters by the time the ban is lifted, many will find themselves at risk of homelessness once the evictions ban ends over the summer.
The ban on evictions was introduced in March and prevents landlords in England and Wales from evicting tenants, even if they have struggled with rent payments. Following significant pressure from campaigners who warned about the implications of the ban ending this month, including housing charity Shelter, the ban was extended last week for a further two months.
Shelter had warned that with the ban ending on the 25th of June there would have been “a wave of unfair evictions that could lead to more homelessness” and the charity is being approached by increasing numbers of renters “worried about losing their homes and being threatened with eviction at the end of the evictions ban”.
New research from the Resolution Foundation think tank found that private renters are more likely struggle with payments than homeowners, with one in eight private renters having falling behind with housing costs since the crisis began compared to one in twelve mortgage holders.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “I know many people who rent their home have struggled to meet their housing costs during the crisis, and they will be deeply worried about what will happen once the evictions ban is lifted over the summer.
“I welcome the Government’s decision to extend the evictions ban, but this is only a stop gap solution and the problems that many renters face will still be there at the end of this extended period. We need ministers to use this extra time to bring in new protections for renters.
“Sadiq Khan has set out a range of proposals to protect renters and I urge the Government to bring in these measures before the ban comes to an end.”
Councillor Sirajul Islam, Deputy Mayor for Housing, said: “As a council we’ve been offering help and advice to many renters in Tower Hamlets during the coronavirus crisis and although the eviction ban has been extended, the end of the ban is still looming for many renters. They need much greater protection in law, including preventing landlords from evicting tenants who are in arrears because of Covid-19. The Housing Minister must step in to protect renters before they lose their homes.”
- The Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee published a report last month looking at how to protect rough sleepers and renters, which included a written submission from Tower Hamlets Council.
- The full report: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1216/documents/10264/default/
- The submission from LBTH: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/3623/html/