Channel 1 Los Angeles
A quarter of London’s 2.2 million privately renting adults have fallen behind on their rent, or say they are likely to do so soon. This equates to half a million people potentially facing eviction.
The Mayor has called for more to be done to help London’s renters throughout the Coronavirus pandemic – including the extension of the ban on eviction court cases introduced by the Government in late March and extended in June.
New research from City Hall and YouGov estimates that one-in-12 private renters in the capital have fallen behind on some or all of their rent since the start of lockdown – equivalent to around 180,000 adults across London. A further one-in-six – equivalent to around 374,000 – fear they are likely to fall behind soon. More than a third of private renters polled said they thought the pandemic will have a ‘large impact’ on their personal finances.
These difficulties are not confined to the private rented sector, with 17 per cent of council tenants and 19 per cent of those who rent from housing associations also facing arrears.
Ministers have been repeatedly warned about the dangers facing renters. Last month Shelter found that an estimated 227,000 adult private renters had fallen into arrears since the start of the pandemic and are facing eviction when the ban ends on 23 August. Meanwhile, the Resolution Foundation reported that one in eight private renters across England have fallen behind with their housing costs since the outbreak, with private renters in London more likely to have accumulated arrears (see notes).
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “The Government needs to wake up to the terrifying prospect facing thousands of London renters as the eviction ban comes to an end.
“Housing charities, rental support groups and I have given the Government ample warning of the cliff edge approaching us on 23 August. If nothing is done, local authority housing services could be overwhelmed, and we could see a flood of people being forced onto the streets.
“It would be a tragedy if thousands more people find themselves homeless due to being evicted. It is not too late for Ministers to act, but time is fast running out.”
The Mayor has repeatedly called for urgent action to prevent renters from accruing arrears and facing homelessness as a result of the pandemic. This should include providing additional funding for councils to accommodate those made homeless as a result of the pandemic and introducing ‘triple lock’ protection for renters affected by COVID-19 (see notes for further details). The Mayor’s triple lock would:
- Further increase the help the welfare benefits system provides with rents and cover any shortfall in rental payments of private tenants unable to pay them due to COVID-19, including arrears. This should include immediate funds being made available to councils to help them protect renters from eviction proceedings while the Mayor’s proposals are put in place.
- Prevent private landlords from serving section 8 (arrears) notices where tenants have accrued arrears as a result of COVID-19.
- Scrap section 21 evictions to prevent landlords evicting tenants affected by COVID-19 using the so-called ‘no fault’ evictions route as an alternative to section 8.
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent said: “This new research shows how much private renters are bearing the brunt of this economic shock.
“Even if they’ve managed to keep on top of the rent so far, one in four renters is really struggling. By failing to provide a decent safety net, the government is leaving renters to burn through their savings or take on stomach-churning debt.
“And when evictions restart, there is still nothing stopping landlords using a Section 21 notice to force out tenants with no appeal.”
Roz Spencer, Head of Service at Safer Renting said: “For some tenants Covid-19 has been the last straw, making a system that is already weighted heavily in favour of landlords, intolerable.
“Since the start of lockdown, even our small operation has seen an uptick in incidences of harassment and illegal eviction compared to the previous year. This research shows these issues are widespread and will become worse when the eviction ban comes to an end.”
A London renter said: “I am now in arrears for my rent and utilities.
“I am terrified that I will lose my home through eviction. I may not be able to afford to pay any rent in future let alone arrears. I’m literally ill with worry about becoming homeless.”