Evictions could treble due to coronavirus rent debts, activists warn
The number of households made homeless after being evicted for falling behind on the rent could treble if the government does not stop a mounting debt crisis, campaigners are warning.
They are calling for the government to suspend evictions due to rent arrears arising from the pandemic, an increase in the amount of and eligibility for housing benefits, and a scheme to clear arrears not covered by the benefit system that would guarantee 80% of landlords’ incomes.
Recent polling by the Resolution Foundation found 13% of renters said they were behind with payments to their landlords, compared with about 4% before the pandemic, according to figures from the English housing survey.
But the campaign group Generation Rent said if rates of homelessness followed the same trend, 45,000 households could be made homeless after being evicted from a private tenancy for rent arrears, up from about 15,000 in 2019.
All court proceedings for evictions are frozen until 24 August, but renters’ groups have been warning of an avalanche of evictions once the limit expires.
While homeowners – including landlords – have been able to benefit from mortgage holidays negotiated by the government, tenants have been liable for rent throughout the coronavirus lockdown.
While the government has raised housing benefits to cover the cost of the cheapest 30% of properties in a given area, the rate remains lower than before the imposition of austerity policies a decade ago, when it covered 50% of properties.
Several groups are also unable to even benefit from this modest increase in ...
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