The country’s Chartered Institute of Housing is calling for a raft of far-reaching measures that it says would protect some 260,000 tenants from losing their homes during the crisis.

Campaigners in Northern Ireland have joined calls on the mainland to extend the Coronavirus evictions ban so that thousands aren’t left homeless and landlords don’t face huge bills.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) NI is suggesting a raft of measures to help the region’s 260,000 renters, including a new evictions ban until they can take place safely, a temporary ban on evictions solely arising from COVID-related arrears and for private tenancies with no fixed term, to stop evictions where no reason is given.

The charity is also calling on the Government to introduce an interest-free loan scheme to cover landlords’ loss of rental income and to require that those given mortgage holidays pass relief on to tenants.

Pay rent

Justin Cartwright, CIH national director for Northern Ireland, says a key part of the hardship during the crisis has been the struggle to pay rent and tenants worrying if they’ll be able to keep their home. He cites unemployment benefit claims in Northern Ireland rising by almost 90% from 29,700 to 56,200 in April.

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Says Cartwright: “We do not start from a good place. Housing Executive and housing association resources for dealing with homelessness were stretched before the epidemic and could be overwhelmed if there’s a sudden growth in evictions due to rent arrears.”

CIH believes ending protecting against eviction as a result of courts only listing urgent cases and the ‘notice to quit period’ extension, could result in a potentially large number of eviction actions within a short period. He adds: “The burden cannot simply be put onto landlords. That could lead to defaults on mortgages and enforced sales, which could deplete the sector just when that capacity is most needed. This needs Government action too.”

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