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With the ban on evictions in the private and social housing sectors ending today, campaigners, politicians and charities are all urging ministers to be cautious.
Government announced they would end 31 May, with notice periods – previously extended to six months as an emergency measure during the pandemic - set at four months from 1 June.
At the time, Generation Rent and the National Residential Landlords Association spoke out to call for a new fund to help those with rent arrears.
Since the announcement, the National Housing Federation has come out and said housing associations will make no evictions for financial hardship if the person is positively engaging with their housing association.
But these new warnings come as many in the sector fear the incoming wave of homelessness and poverty.
St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “Last year the Government acknowledged that people falling into rent arrears during the pandemic was a problem beyond a person’s control, and acted quickly to introduce measures to protect people from being evicted.
“We, alongside many others in the homelessness sector, warned that unless longer term solutions were put in place there would be a looming tide of homelessness.
“We agreed with proposals such as loans or grants for those in arrears, making the uplift in universal credit permanent, and the abolition of so-called ‘section 21’ no fault evictions, and urged that they be introduced.
“However, these support measures have not materialised, so the threat of a new wave of homelessness is becoming an increasing reality, especially with the furlough scheme also due to finish at the end of September.
“When that happens we could end up seeing a perfect storm of arrears, unemployment and homelessness for many people who already are on the edge and struggling to cope.”
The Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development in London, Tom Copley, said that the evictions ban was no more than "a sticking plaster covering the many issues affecting renters"
He added: “These Londoners are facing possible eviction proceedings and homelessness. Ministers must take this risk to tenants seriously and offer suitable financial help to tenants. This should be coupled with Government finally committing on its promise to end ‘no fault’ evictions and giving councils the resources to address the increase in homelessness the end of the eviction ban could trigger.
“In the meantime, renters being threatened with eviction should seek housing advice urgently to make sure they fully understand their rights in these unprecedented circumstances.”
There was also concern from the legal sector.
The Law Society's President for England and Wales, Stephanie Boyce, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a testing time for landlords and tenants alike. As we mark the end of the eviction ban, we urge the UK government to be cautious of next steps and to act in the best interest of the public.
“Legal advice must be available to all tenants facing eviction from their homes, no matter the circumstances surrounding the eviction, particularly when homelessness is a likely outcome. The earlier the advice can be received the better.
“While all efforts should be made to keep tenants and landlords talking and to ensure court litigation is undertaken as a last resort, caution should continue to be exercised around replacing legal advice with mediation.
“While the cases of Covid-19 have significantly reduced, the economic impacts of the pandemic continue. A balancing of tenant and landlord rights, therefore, needs to continue to be undertaken.”