This is the text of a speech given at the People's Assembly #HealthNotWealth rally on 07//05, which you can view in its entirety here.
Please add your name to the demands by signing below, and let people know by sharing with the hashtag #CancelTheRent. We will keep you up to date with the campaign.
The Coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the problems already existing for tenants, and lack of action from the government has added further unnecessary anxiety for millions across the country.
Our government has already legislated for those it prioritises; homeowners and landlords offered a mortgage holiday, while renters are forgotten. Tenants are most likely to be keyworkers, risking their health on the frontline of the crisis. Furloughed workers only receive 80% of their salary, yet your landlord is still expecting 100% of your rent.
In March, Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary promised: ‘no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home’. We agree. We’re calling for him to match his words with deeds. Here are our three demands.
- CANCEL THE RENT AND MEANS TEST THE LANDLORDS - all rent and any Coronavirus crisis debt should be cancelled with no duty to pay back later. The burden of proof for support should be shifted onto landlords, because they can afford to take a hit. If landlords do struggle, the government should step in and support them instead of further impoverishing their tenants.
- END UNFAIR EVICTIONS - Nobody should lose their home during a global pandemic. The government must extend the eviction ban to 12 months to protect renters while bringing a final end to Section 21, the leading cause of homelessness, promised multiple times by the Tories but never delivered. We need to fix section 8, making sure landlords never have the automatic right to evict due to rent arrears, to ensure tenants are adequately protected.
- BENEFITS THAT BENEFIT US - Scrap the 5 week wait for Universal Credit which leaves millions choosing between rent and food, and implement grants instead of loans, which push the working class into debt they cannot afford. We need to raise the Local Housing Allowance to 50% so more homes are made available for people who need them, and a permanent end to DSS discrimination which sees those with the least made to work the hardest for the smallest amount of support.
We must secure permanent housing for those currently living in temporary accommodation so those who have experienced homelessness are not forced back onto the streets.
Homelessness exposes capitalism’s inability to care, coming out of the coronavirus emergency we demand a new normal for renters. The only solution to the housing and homelessness crisis is decommodified council housing with no fear of eviction or unaffordable rent, for stability and dignity for workers across the country.