20,000 evictions could go ahead during coronavirus outbreak

Homelessness charity, Shelter, warns that ‘watered-down’ legislation will not protect those who are already in the process of being evicted.

Government published emergency legislation to suspend new eviction cases for three months during the coronavirus crisis yesterday (March 23).

The measures extend the notice period that landlords must give tenants before they can evict them through a court process, from two months to three.

However, Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said this does not go far enough to protect people and keep them in a safe home until the public health emergency has passed.

She said that renters with an eviction case already in progress in the courts, an estimated 20,000 cases, could still be legally evicted and lose their home in the next three months.

The charity is now calling for a wholesale and complete halt to all evictions so that no-one is left without a home during this public health emergency.

Ms Neate said: ‘Last week the government’s commitment to a temporary ban on evictions made renters across the country feel safer in their homes. But yesterday’s watered-down measures risk homelessness and uncertainty at this worrying time.

‘For the next three months as many as 20,000 eviction proceedings already in progress will go ahead, and eviction notices will continue to land on renter’s doormats.

‘This means people trying to isolate or socially distance, and even some within the shielded group, could still lose their home in the coming weeks, and even more, may face eviction by mid-June.

‘It defies belief that while so much effort is going into a coordinated medical response to this pandemic, the government is prepared to allow so many evictions to continue, putting at risk not just those losing their homes, but also the people they are forced into contact with.

‘This emergency legislation must not continue in its current form. We need a wholesale and complete halt to all evictions so that no-one is left without a home during this public health emergency.

‘Anything less is a huge risk we do not need to take.’

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said government will issue guidance which asks landlords to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by the coronavirus outbreak to remain in their homes wherever possible.

A spokesman for Shelter said the helpline has seen a sharp rise in calls for help from people facing discrimination and housing issues because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The spokesman said there are 11 million people in the UK privately renting, 1.8m people on zero-hours contracts and many more in unstable employment, meaning thousands of households will suddenly be unable to afford to stay in their home and will be turning to the charity for help.

Click here for more information on how you can help Shelter meet the growing demand for its services.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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