Mayor of London warns of ‘ticking time bomb’ for renters

29 May 2020 | General

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has warned that many of London’s private renters are facing imminent homelessness, unless the government acts to properly protect them from eviction.

In March the government announced the suspension of evictions for three months to stop renters losing their homes during the crisis.

Despite this, some landlords have still issued eviction notices during the pandemic.

It’s expected that there will be a sharp increase in the number of households being made homeless when court proceedings resume on 25 June.

Sadiq Khan said: “Many renters are just one pay cheque away from homelessness. It’s completely unacceptable that London renters should be facing a ticking timebomb where they could lose their home.

“The government took the required urgent action at the end of March to suspend eviction proceedings for 90 days but has then wasted the window of opportunity this presented to shore up protections for private renters.

“Suggestions that landlords and their tenants agree ‘affordable repayment plans’ between themselves is totally unfair, and unrealistic in many cases.

“Ministers still have an opportunity to steer us away from this cliff edge and avoid inflicting needless suffering on renters across the country, but they must act now.

“This crisis has exposed the poorly regulated state of the rental market which is why I’ll continue fighting for the rights of London renters in every way I can, including by giving boroughs and the Met the training and knowledge they need to protect tenants’ rights.”

In April the Mayor called on the government to do the following:

  • Immediately increase welfare support for renters, suspend the Benefit 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.
  • Once the temporary suspension of court proceedings is lifted on 25 June, prevent private landlords from evicting tenants who have accrued arrears as a result of COVID-19. This could be achieved by making section 8 (the arrears ground for eviction) discretionary in court proceedings.
  • Scrap so-called ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions. This would prevent landlords evicting tenants affected by COVID-19 using this route as an alternative to the section 8 method.

This post has originally been featured in Property Wire.