The country is back in lockdown and Covid-19 cases are at an all-time high. With a new variant rapidly spreading, once again, we have all been asked to stay at home. It is unthinkable that renters could be forced out of their homes, but the government has not yet protected renters from eviction. From Monday, bailiffs will once again be able to remove renters from their homes, and courts remain open to process evictions. The government must do all that it can to keep renters in their homes.
For the first national lockdown, the government did the right thing. It paused all court proceedings, meaning no evictions could take place. But landlords could still issue eviction notices, which have been dropping through the letterboxes of renters who have struggled to keep up with payments. Since the first lockdown, one in three renters have lost income, and an estimated 840,000 are in arrears, meaning many more people could be at risk of eviction now than in March 2020.
The government must now ban evictions for the duration of any lockdown measures, to keep renters safe. A full eviction ban means pausing all court proceedings, as well as bailiff action. Renters should not be forced to attend proceedings that may put their health at risk. Online proceedings can put renters, especially the many affected by vulnerabilities and inequalities, at a serious disadvantage. And to prevent evictions when restrictions lift, we also need a targeted package of measures to address rent arrears now.
The government has done the right thing before. We call on ministers to act swiftly to protect the health of renters and the wider public in the midst of this crisis.
On behalf of the Renters Reform Coalition