No-one should lose their home as a result of COVID-19 #CV19HousingJustice
With over 1.5m people nationally and over 100,000 in Greater Manchester alone claiming Universal Credit as a result of the crisis; we are likely to see large numbers of tenants, particularly in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) unable to meet their rent over the coming months.
The housing costs provided through Universal Credit will not meet the rent that is due and could lead to thousands losing their homes. Research already shows that 6 out of 10 PRS tenants are struggling financially, over the coming months; this situation is only likely to worsen. The Coronavirus crisis has highlighted the imbalance of power between tenants and landlords.
There is currently no legal protection for renters in this scenario. Action is needed NOW to ensure that tenants are protected and have the ability to face this unprecedented crisis in the short and medium term without the threat of eviction.
London Councils today (1st May) have warned that we are facing an “avalanche of evictions” when the current stay on possession proceedings ends on the 25th June. This is a national issue – tenants across Greater Manchester will be at risk of losing their homes after 25th June.
Greater Manchester Law Centre , Garden Court North Chambers and the Tenants Union have proposed changes to current housing legislation to ensure that tenants are afforded protection from eviction and the Courts have the power to ensure that any possession action is proportionate and reasonable given the circumstances faced by the tenant in accruing arrears. The full proposals can be found here.
What do these changes mean?
- Abolition of section 21 evictions
- A Rent amnesty – from the 20th March to when the crisis ends so that arrears accrued as a result of the pandemic are excluded from rent ‘lawfully due’ within the Housing Acts
- An amendment to secondary legislation to include further information in the ‘How to Rent’ guide on the financial protections introduced by the Government in response to the pandemic.
- The adoption of a pre-action protocol for assured shorthold tenancies to ensure additional protection for tenants
These proposals have one central aim – to ensure that, whatever additional measures are called for in respect of COVID-19 arrears, renters do not face eviction as a result of this public health crisis.
In addition we also demand that the Government immediately:
- Increases Local Housing Allowance (30th/ 50th Percentile) with suspension of rent increases
- Suspends the Benefit Cap, 2 Child Rule, Bedroom Tax as justifications no longer apply
- Provides additional funding for LA’s to prevent arrears and homelessness (DHPs, Hardship Funds, Homelessness Reduction Act Powers)
We are calling out to landlords across Greater Manchester and their trade bodies to commit to supporting tenants in hardship from COVID-19 through agreeing now to the measures outlined in the proposed pre-action protocol.
The current crisis has only highlighted the current lack of legal protection to tenants by current legislation, the proposals allow for immediate access to justice to those facing unprecedented pressures upon their income, families and homes. These proposals are only a start however; and that wider change in terms of large scale investment in social housing and further regulation of the private sector is needed to ensure that affordable secure housing is a right for all.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the impact of COVID-19 please click here to access our Survival guide for advice, information and sources of help.
For further information to discuss these proposals please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . If you want to get involved in the wider campaign to support private tenants across Greater Manchester contact Tenants Union: email@example.com