The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has made a last-ditch appeal to the Government to bring in additional protections for private renters before the eviction ban is lifted at the end of this week (23rd August).
Although the Scottish and Welsh governments have moved to increase protections for private renters, there have been no such plans from Westminster despite the fact that the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick wrote in March that ‘no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home.’ Housing Charity Shelter has this week warned that ‘tens of thousands could face the trauma of losing their homes over the autumn and winter.’
The threat facing private renters comes as official figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that claims for Universal Credit hit a monthly record high in the early weeks of lockdown, with 1.5m claims made between 13 March and 9 April. According to the Office for National Statistics, 8.3% of residents aged 16-64 in the Poplar & Limehouse constituency were claiming unemployment benefits in May. The figure is 9.1% of residents in Bethnal Green & Bow.
Last week the Mayor of London warned that the country faces a ‘devastating tsunami of evictions’ as new research from City Hall and YouGov estimates a quarter of London’s 2.2 million privately renting adults have fallen behind on their rent, or say they are likely to do so soon, equating to half a million people potentially facing eviction.
Mayor John Biggs is urging the Government to ensure that tough new protections are introduced for renters before the ban ends.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “With the ban on evictions ending this week, the Government has mere days to act before many private renters are potentially faced with eviction. We have warned ministers about this time and time again but they seem determined to allow the ban to end without introducing new protections for renters.
“We know how tough it is for individuals and their families right now. Thousands have lost their jobs and claims for Universal Credit are soaring, and unless the Government acts immediately we could very well see soaring levels of homelessness across the country too.”
“Time is almost up for the Government to act. We need tough new protections in place for private renters, and I’m backing the proposals from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for a new ‘triple lock’ protection for renters.”
Councillor Sirajul Islam, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This will be a deeply anxious and upsetting time for renters who will be worried about what the future holds, particularly those who have struggled to pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic and who might now lose their homes.
“Many private renters will feel abandoned by a Government that has had months to plan and bring in new protections for renters but has chosen not to do so.”