Housing Is Health! No Homelessness, No Rent Debt
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In order to protect tenants, lodgers and mortgage holders from eviction and debt during the COVID-19 outbreak ACORN calls on the government for:
- Extension of the evictions ban for a minimum of 6 months or for as long as needed to protect the public health from coronavirus
- An immediate and permanent end to Section 21
- A rent waiver for the duration of the crisis meaning that any arrears accrued as a result of the crisis cannot be expected or included in any future grounds for eviction
- Landlords should have to start the process for any paused evictions from scratch once the ban on court proceedings has lifted
- A government legislated mortgage and interest payment freeze during the crisis with protection from eviction
- Protection against eviction to be extended to lodgers
Little has been done to protect renters from getting into rent arrears. The Government has said that landlords and tenants should agree repayment plans but have not legislated for this and have given renters no security on this. Renters remain at the whim of landlords.
Once the crisis is over, there can be no doubt that renters will be evicted because of rent arrears accrued due to and during the COVID-19 crisis. There will be an arrears and eviction boom at the end of the emergency period whenever that is. This is because Section 21 is still in place, meaning that no reason is needed for eviction and arrears accrued during the crisis are grounds for Section 8 evictions. The government has already committed to ending Section 21, they should do this now to protect people during the crisis and temporarily suspend Section 8, making sure to prevent landlords using other eviction grounds as well.
Renters and mortgage-holders will experience financial hardship as a result of the crisis. There has been an exponential rise in applications for Universal Credit and benefits, at a time when the number of workers is very low due to the virus. This is putting extreme strain on the system. The government should act to remove peoples’ biggest outgoings, reducing the number relying on benefits and reducing the strain on Universal Credit. For private landlords who would severely struggle financially as a result of loss of rental income, the government could afford them a means-tested benefit. With almost five times as many private renters as there are private landlords, means-testing the smaller, better off group places less of a burden on the system. Fewer people on the breadline overall means better public health and less strain on services. Any arrears accrued as a result of the crisis should not hang over tenants or mortgage holder and affect their credit ratings or future applications for public housing.
The government has announced 3 month payment holiday for buy-to-let mortgage holders, this should go hand in hand with a rent suspension with no expectation for that rent to be repaid. Landlords will have the asset of a house for as long as they choose to keep it, and even if it takes 3 more months to pay off their mortgage the house will ultimately be theirs.
ACORN commits to continuing to campaign for housing security for all throughout this crisis. Find out more about the campaign here - https://acorntheunion.org.uk/housingishealth/
ACORN is a community and tenants union which campaigns to further the rights of ordinary people by organising where we live to stand up to landlords, businesses and governments. Join our movement and find out more on our website: acorntheunion.org.uk
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