‘Woefully inadequate’: Extend rental evictions ban and give tenants at least two years to pay back arrears, Labour demands

Exclusive: Labour says thousands are at risk of losing their homes unless ministers act urgently

Boris Johnson: 'I can confirm we will be bringing forward legislation to protect private renters from eviction'

Labour is demanding emergency action from government to protect renters through the coronavirus pandemic by extending an eviction ban by six months and giving tenants at least two years to pay back arrears.

Describing current provisions introduced by ministers during the Covid-19 crisis as “woefully inadequate”, the party highlighted research suggesting thousands of tenants are at risk of losing their homes.

Prominent housing charity Shelter has already warned of an “onslaught” of people unable to afford their bills due to the impact of the virus on employment with many tenants faced with unexpectedly reduced incomes.

It claimed 1.7 million renters also believed they would lose their jobs in the next three months as a result of the pandemic, pointing to spiralling debt and urging the government to prevent “needless evictions”.

Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow housing secretary, told The Independent: “Current protections for people renting their homes are woefully inadequate. Unless the government acts now, many thousands of tenants will be at risk of losing their homes.”

In response to the unprecedented crisis, the government said in April that no social or private renter in England or Wales will be evicted or forced out of their home, and introduced measures to force landlords to give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession of the property.

Ministers said this “extended buffer period” will apply in law until 30 September and will be extended it if deemed necessary.

But critics have said ministers have not gone far enough to address concerns of the millions of renters in England. Unlike those who have purchased properties and can request a “mortgage holiday” from banks, individuals in the rental sector facing financial insecurity are forced to seek help from landlords on an individual basis.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party is now urging ministers to act urgently and extend the rental ban on evictions from three to nine months, “or however long is needed”, in a five-point plan Labour says protects tenants.

The party also calls on the government to bring forward proposals to scrap “no fault” eviction clauses for tenancies in England, and temporarily increase the Local Housing Allowance. “Once evictions are prevented, grant renters at least two years to pay back any arrears accrued during this period,” the party added.

“Give residential tenants the same protections as commercial tenants, by protecting them from being made bankrupt by their landlords for non-payment of rent.”

Ms Debbonaire added: “The government has paused evictions for three months and answered Labour’s call to increase the Local Housing Allowance. Both are welcome, but do not go far enough. It will take time for people to recover from this crisis and they need all the support we can give them to prevent what would be an unprecedented and devastating spike in homelessness.

“In the long term we need to fix the housing crisis – with stronger rent regulations and much more affordable and social housing – so that everyone has a home that is safe, secure, environmentally sustainable, and that they can afford to live in. What we need right now is an emergency package to set us on that path.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in