Like so much during this pandemic, we can’t be absolutely certain, as we’ve not been here before.
The ban on evictions in the private rented sector was announced by government on 18th March. What seems like a lifetime ago, was a moment of reassurance for many that eviction by their private landlord was on hold (this included social landlords, although it was broadly felt that the risk of eviction was lower).
It is estimated by Shelter that some 230,000 private renters face the risk of eviction having fallen into arrears during the pandemic. Rent arrears of eight weeks or more can legally trigger automatic eviction.
That private landlords get a bad press is not new and often unfair. More likely it is the result of their being ‘accidental’ landlords rather than bad ones. Most landlords don’t own 100s of properties or make millions of pounds. They have mortgages to pay too. And like those of us running a small business, they frequently lack the skill, knowledge and capacity to do everything well. However, this combined with undoubtedly a ‘landlords’ market’ has led to some unethical and downright illegal behaviour too.
On 20th September, the temporary extension on the eviction ban ends. As the lid lifts, evictions will flow. Concerns now abound that this temporary halt is simply a time for people to pack their bags as courtrooms fill with landlords seeking possession.
Proper safeguards are being called for to avoid a significant rise in homelessness. Whilst street homelessness is always most visible on our streets, more likely are homes and families being put under increased pressure. Families and households already experiencing worklessness, children living in poverty and sometimes violence, are about to find themselves under further pressure. For those seeking help from the local authority for housing, if they are lucky enough to be housed they will be putting more pressure on a squeezed system that already lacks sufficient housing capacity.
The cycle of unemployment and homelessness is an all too familiar one. Try holding down a job without a home. The situation post pandemic however, is that it is the loss of the job that it more likely to result in the loss of a home. For those that are lucky enough to get another stab at a home, finding an income to sustain it has never been harder and for some the revolving door of homelessness beckons.
It is for this reason we have this week launched our #privaterenters social media campaign. With our limited resource, but great friends and champions, we will provide online, flexible and accessible information to help private renters during the looming eviction crisis. This will include anything from coaching to crisis help and signposting.
Follow us, share, comment and like on our social media – it’s a small thing to do to reach people who may need our help right now.