On March 26th, Robert Jenrick agreed that nobody should lose their home due to Coronavirus. The extension of eviction notice to 90 days, and suspension of eviction proceedings by the courts, came as a result of pressure from renters rights groups. But the government has capitulated to the powerful landlord lobby and failed to legislate any further for renters despite rising debt, an evictions cliff edge, and homelessness fast approaching for millions.
Government works in the interest of landlords due to the historic entrenchment of property rights over human need in law, because of a powerful lobbying operation for the sector and their financiers, and because many MPs are landlords who financially benefit from an exploitative rented sector. Tenants must continue to fight for change, any complacency about the minor gains made so far risk any progress made being reversed by these wealthy and powerful interests.
This is highlighted by the campaign to end Section 21 no fault evictions. The Conservative government has made empty promises to scrap this for over a year. Since the consultation closed on 12 October 2019 the Landlord lobby has been campaigning to amend Section 8 to retain fast track eviction powers, which would render scrapping Section 21 a hollow victory.
Evicting people because of a global health pandemic is morally repugnant, and we support all efforts to protect or defend people who are at risk of losing their homes. Evicting people during a global health pandemic is idiotic and dangerous, and risks the collective, nationwide effort to curb the spread of Coronavirus, for which everyone has sacrificed so much.
We demand changes to legislation to protect renters from evictions both during the Coronavirus crisis and afterwards. Government must also cancel any rent and associated debt for those unable to pay, who will otherwise face intolerable hardship and a future eviction due to rent arrears. Mortgage holidays, and a repossession ban, have been extended by a further 3 months, to accommodate homeowners struggling financially. Renters are not afforded that luxury and cannot get back lost weeks of work income.
This week marks one month until courts reopen for eviction proceedings again. Tenants everywhere must be prepared to defend themselves and their neighbours from losing their homes. Landlords are hoping we do not organise together because they know that makes us more powerful.
For many tenants, this is the culmination of months of disappointment, poor service, disrepair and harassment, with no compassion or consideration from landlords, and there is little support or advice from authorities or sector organisations until the point of crisis. That is why tenants must organise, and stand together in solidarity.
The private rented sector operates within a vacuum of regulation, and little concern for the welfare of those who have to rent a place to live. Landlord Action’s website states that “There are invalid notices served every week, but nobody ever knows because the tenants leave.”
Advice to landlords, taken from the Landlord Action website.
Receiving an eviction notice can be incredibly isolating and demeaning, but remember that you do not have to leave when you receive the notice. If there is a tenants association in your area, join it and make sure everyone on your street, estate or block also does. If there isn’t set one up, affiliate to your local tenants union and get in touch with us.
Fair and just laws are never handed down willingly, they are fought for by people like us organising for protection from current laws that aren’t working. We must build collective power and be ready to stand in solidarity together to fight for housing justice. Now is the time to organise to protect renters.