Coronavirus: Protect Renters Now!

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Alexandrina Hemsley
Alexandrina Hemsley signed this petition

The are 20 million people renting in Britain. 

In order to protect tenants and mortgage holders from eviction and debt during the COVID-19 outbreak ACORN calls on the government for: 

  1. An immediate and permanent end to Section 21
  2. A rent waiver for the duration of the crisis via an amendment to Section 8 meaning that any arrears accrued during the crisis cannot be included in any future grounds for eviction on the basis of rent arrears
  3. For any paused evictions landlords should have to start the process from scratch once the ban on court proceedings has lifted

Why?

Nothing 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 i.e. no reason 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.

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. It would make more sense if the government acted to remove peoples’ biggest outgoings so that they wouldn't need to rely on benefits and the Universal Credit service wouldn't be under such strain.

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 renters rights throughout this crisis.

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