In the last 7 days, the Government have introduced new measures to protect renters.
As the coronavirus crisis has worsened, a growing number of renters have got in touch with us with worries about paying their rent and staying safely in their home.
Earlier this month, we set out how the Government could protect renters, including banning evictions and supporting those who had lost income to pay their rent. Since then, over 2,400 renters and supporters wrote to their MP, hundreds took action on Twitter, and renters made headlines. And we won - the Government committed to two key policies which will protect renters affected by COVID-19 - a suspension of evictions, and an increase in housing benefit.
What does this mean for you?
Eviction ban: On 18 March, the Government announced they would bring in a ‘complete ban on evictions’. On Monday 23 March, a leaked copy of the legislation highlighted that this was not the case: the Government were not stopping evictions already in progress, and they were only extending the notice period from 2 months to 3. Following harsh criticism from renters, unions, charities and legal experts, on Thursday 26 March, the Government U-turned and suspended all eviction cases in the courts system, meaning the ban will apply to almost all renters*, and no one will face eviction for three months. This will be reviewed after 3 months.
Housing benefit: On Friday 20 March, the Government announced that it would increase local housing allowance, so that it covers the cheapest 30% of rented homes. LHA has not been linked to rents since 2012, so has been covering less and less of renters’ costs, making housing unaffordable for many, particularly in the London and the South East. Housing campaigners have long called for an increase in housing benefit, and this measure will help many renters with the cost of rent.
But there's more to be done.
A ban on evictions for three months and an increase in housing benefit are important steps. But many renters are still getting in touch with us with worries about paying their rent. Without additional support, thousands will be facing eviction for rent arrears in June when the ban ends. The five-week wait for Universal Credit (which includes housing benefit) will push renters into arrears before their first payment, and in many cases it won't even cover the rent. People are facing long waits even to apply for benefits, and are worried about being left without money for rent and essentials. We also know that unscrupulous landlords are threatening renters with illegal eviction.
That's where you come in. At Generation Rent, we're campaigning for the Government to go further, and we need renters and people like you to help us make the case. With your help, we will make sure that renters' voices are heard: by politicians, by the media, by landlords and by the public. If you're worried about rent arrears, eviction or anything else as a result of coronavirus, we want to hear from you - report your landlord or tell us about your experience here. Will you join our movement for change? Join the campaign to help us make the case for greater protections so that no one faces debt or eviction.
Join the campaign here
We've updated our advice page with information on where to get support if you're affected by coronavirus.
*Lodgers are not covered by the Protection from Eviction Act in the same way as tenants, property guardians and people in temporary accommodation, so are not protected by the suspension of court proceedings.