The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has called on the Housing Secretary to introduce tougher protections for private renters as the economic impact of coronavirus bites.

Brand new figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week revealed that 649,000 people left company payrolls between March and June this year, and this follows warnings from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that unemployment could surpass levels not seen since the 1980s.

Mayor Biggs warns that with the eviction ban ending next month and unemployment rising, many private renters are at risk of losing their homes unless stringent new legal protections are introduced.

A landmark ruling at York County Court last week, that it is unlawful to reject tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of housing benefit, highlights just how out-of-touch the law is around protections for private renters.

Mayor Biggs has backed proposals from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan which would see a ‘Triple Lock’ protection introduced 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 of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “With the furlough scheme beginning to wind down, unemployment on the rise and the ban on evictions coming to an end, private tenants across the country face a really tough situation and time is looming to get strong new legal protections in place for private renters.

“The court ruling that so-called ‘no-DSS’ tenancy policies are unlawful shows just how flimsy legal protections currently are for private renters and I’m calling on the Housing Secretary to look urgently at the rules and introduce the triple-lock as set out by Mayor Sadiq Khan.”

Councillor Sirajul Islam, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We have worked tirelessly throughout the lockdown to get rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation, but with rising unemployment we could very well see a surge in the number of people without a roof over their heads if tenants are evicted. This is completely avoidable, but we need tough new protections in place for renters to ensure it.”

“As a council we’ve also introduced measures like the private renters’ charter and selective licensing to drive up standards and protect renters, but we need stronger powers from Government to better protect renters.”

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