Evictions banned for private renters, government announces
PUBLISHED: 11:59 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:59 19 March 2020
Protections for tenants living in rented accommodation hit by the spread of coronavirus must not be allowed to be “exploited by unscrupulous landlords”, a Norfolk councillor has said.
Measures to ban landlords from evicting tenants for three months will be an “urgent priority” and three-month mortgage payment holidays will be extended to landlords whose tenants experience coronavirus related financial difficulties, housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.
Repayment plans will have to be worked out by landlords and tenants after this period, the government has said.
The announcement followed mounting pressure on the government to announce measures to prevent private renters falling into arrears and facing evictions if their incomes were affected by the crisis, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn calling on Boris Johnson to announce measures.
Speaking during prime ministers questions in the House of Commons, the prime minister vowed the government would bring forward emergency legislation to ensure people do not lose their homes or suffer no-fault evictions.
And during a press conference he said the government would not “penalise people for doing the right thing”.
He said: “We can’t penalise people when we have an economic upset which is the direct result of the government to protect the public.
“Everyone who experiences that is entitled to protection and support.”
But Norfolk county councillor Emma Corlett said it was vital that measures went straight to renters to avoid protections being “exploited by unscrupulous landlords”.
The Labour councillor added: “We’ve got a really high number of private renters in Norwich.
“It’s really important that people in private accommodation are given protection and that it’s done in such a way that it cant be exploited by unscrupulous landlords.”
Ms Corlett, who represents Town Close, added: “Some people have the double whammy of private rented accommodation and a zero-hours contract or insecure employment.
“Whatever the measures are it needs to go directly to renters so no loopholes can be exploited.”
But Nick Taylor former chairman of the Norwich and District Association of Estate Agents (NDAEA) stressed that the impact on landlords must be considered.
“For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis it is only right that nobody should be evicted from their home should they fall behind on the rent,” he said.
“However, I’m not sure that the government has considered what impact this may have on landlords who may see a drop in rental income.
“If we all pull together I’m sure we can all get back to normal as soon as possible. However bad things get we must all remember that all this will pass.”
It comes as housing associations pledged no one would be made homeless as a result of the growing economic crisis sparked by the spread of the disease.
Kate Henderson, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations in England said: “No one should be evicted because of the coronavirus.
“We are confident that no housing association will do this, and want anyone affected by the outbreak to be reassured they will not be evicted.
”As charitable organisations housing associations recognise that a number of people living in social housing work for low or irregular wages in insecure employment and may be placed in serious difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We urge anyone living in a housing association home who is worried about financial difficulties to get in touch with their housing association.
“Housing associations offer extensive financial help and support for people, including help claiming benefits. They are putting in extra support measures during this challenging time and will be doing everything they can to support residents.
”We welcome the steps taken so far by government and its commitment to do whatever it takes to support jobs and incomes.
“However, we urge that the government goes even further to strengthen the welfare system to ensure that everyone who needs it can quickly get help if their income drops.“
Sam Greenacre, managing director of Flagship Homes, said: “Supporting the most vulnerable and keeping our customers and colleagues safe is our priority.
”We’re monitoring and adapting the way we work as things develop and are working hard to ensure we can maintain normal service delivery.
“If any of our customers have been affected by Coronavirus and are worried what this might mean financially, our housing teams are on hand to help and support.
”Our usual contact centre also remains open and we’re here to listen and advise where we can.”
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