The tenant’s action group wants a PRS evictions ban to keep pace with the recently announced extended ban for commercial landlords.
Generation Rent has issued a statement lambasting the government for introducing and extended the eviction ban for commercial business tenancies without a mention of any such extension for private residential tenancies.
The government is expected to introduce emergency legislation fast-tracking a further 9-month ban for commercial tenants, plus making it a mandatory requirement that commercial landlords and business tenants, in dispute over pandemic related rent arrears, enter into legally binding arbitration.
Announcing the ban for commercial tenancies in the Commons, First Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay said that the eviction ban will be extended for a further nine months, meaning that commercial landlords will be unable to evict their tenants for Covid related arrears until March 2022.
However, there was no mention of any such extension for the private rented sector (PRS) on which Generation Rent focuses its attention.
“Generation Rent” has become something of a generic term used to describe a generation of those young adults (18-40) who rent residential property because many of them, due to the many factors behind rising asset prices, have been priced out of the housing market.
The organisation of the same name sprang up several years ago to support the interests of private renters and, as they say to “make sure that the voices of private renters are heard – by landlords, by policymakers, and by politicians.”
The director of Generation Rent, Baroness Alicia Kennedy (pictured), has voiced her concerns about the government’s inaction on the PRS while championing the needs of business tenants.
“The difference in the government’s treatment of businesses and private renters who have been hit by the pandemic could not be starker,” she says.
“If your business has fallen behind on rent by more than four months, that debt is ring-fenced, your landlord is encouraged to ‘share the financial impact’ and you are protected from eviction until March next year.
“If, however, you rent your home and are behind by four months, your landlord has been able to seek a possession order since September last year, and as of this month you get just four weeks’ notice before you’re taken to court.
“At the G7, Boris Johnson warned against entrenching inequalities during the recovery, yet at every turn the government has taken decisions that hurt renters, from freezing Local Housing Allowance while rents continue rising, to inflating house prices with the stamp duty holiday.
“Now a business’s pandemic debts are treated as exceptional, yet the same protection is not extended to people’s homes. To help renters bounce back from the pandemic the government must clear their arrears with a Covid Rent Debt Fund.”
It is claimed that nearly two million private tenants fear they will be unable to find another property if they lose their home as the PRS eviction ban is lifted. With the ban ending the government has come under pressure from campaigning groups to bring forward emergency legislation which would permanent increase protection for those private tenants who are struggling to pay their rent.
Councils have been warning of a “cliff edge” of homelessness in the coming months unless further action is taken further alleviate the pressure on tenants in serious arrears.
One study by homelessness charity Shelter found that the difficulties are affecting around 1.9 million privately renting adults, those most at risk at the end of the ban, which has been repeatedly extended.
The charity claims that of the private renters in England who are worried about losing their home, and who are already cutting back on heating and food to pay rent, over 70% are worried they will be unable to find another home in the future.