UK: An army of homeless 'in waiting' outside courts doors
meanwhile government is not considering mayors' and MPs' plans
The British government set out a scheme to cover wages of employees during lockdown, but this is not protecting renters. Labour Shadow Secretary for Housing Debbonaire is proposing a rent ban, the Mayor of London a plan to protect three million renters in the capital, Clive Betts, Chair of Housing Committee said ban would breach rights to private property.
London - While Tories are protecting banks, property and assets owners spending millions and extending the mortgage scheme until October (and maybe further as Covid might restart spreading in autumn), renters are now exposed to mass evictions in June, as these have been only delayed by three months: the eviction ban expires on 25 June.
It is one of their main political strategies to maintain and expand Conservative political support: when in front of the ballot paper, owners will look back to 2020 when, thanks to Boris Johnson and his reckless team, they managed to earn money keep their properties while ruining the lives of millions of tenants during the historic coronavirus pandemic.
A democratic solution would have been suspending rent payments or support rent gaps over the three months lockdown until end June the same way Tories have done with businesses. That help to renters should have been given earlier, while full lockdown was in place and work was stopped.
Labour shadow housing secretary, Thangam Debbonaire is proposing rent ban. “Treasury announced today extension of mortgage deferral for home-owners till end October but what about renters?”, she said on Friday in a tweet asking the Treasury “will you now extend evictions ban and lift mandatory eviction if landlord goes to court after two months arrears? Or deal with money gap? Why just owners?”.
But Labour Chair of Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee Clive Betts, has a more cautious approach as he said that banning rents would breach rights to private property safeguarded by the European Convention on Human Rights. We should remind Betts that it’s also enshrined in the same European Convention on Human Rights that tenants’ rights are undermined by laws such as Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, on forced no fault evictions in England.
As a result of this ongoing unprecedented crisis millions of tenants accrued arrears during the suspension of work due to lockdown which is still ongoing. Many of them are not covered by the government furlough scheme as self-employed, zero hours contracts etc... in a few words the government scheme covered workers defensible by trade unions, the employees, in order to protect the core of the business and avert mass court cases.
In London at least three million renters have been affected by the COVID -19 crisis. Mayor Sadiq Khan addressed the issue with a specific proposal for solution last April 22nd calling on the government to urgently “implement a ‘Triple Lock’ protection for renters starting from “immediately increase welfare support for renters, suspend the benefits cap, restore Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to median market rents, and cover any shortfall in rental payments of private tenants unable to pay them due to COVID-19 – including those with no recourse to public funds. This could be achieved by setting aside LHA rates for those who are affected by COVID-19”.
A proposal the government, obviously, did not take into consideration.
The main issues now is that companies, except a few, did not restart businesses, many have permanently closed, other have fell into a crisis with no hope to recover soon. The context of the crisis is global. All media, mainstream and alternative, along with Universities, think tanks, historians, politicians, governments, international and global organisations, financial and banking corporations, businesses agree this crisis is worse and deeper than 2008 financial crash and only comparable to the one started in 1929: that means mass unemployment, famine, and not just in developing countries of South Asia.
There still are short term solutions central and local governments have to reach in order to protect tenants covering these three months gap, and long term ones as employment is faltering.
On the one hand it’s undoubtedly true that landlords cannot afford to maintain at their own expenses a mass of million of unemployed without a government scheme in addition to the mortgage delay one for a period longer then three months.
On the other hand mass evictions would cost government more than a short term rent gap financial cover, because it will have to find homeless an accommodation, because those evicted will not have anywhere to go in this crisis context, and next winter we will certainly have a second spike of coronavirus infections as vaccine is still a chimera.