Labour is urging the government to permit private tenants who are struggling to pay their rent due to the coronavirus epidemic to be exempt from paying their landlord for three months.
Many renters are being “driven to destitution” by the existing situation, according to outgoing shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
Plans announced earlier this month by the government mean landlords cannot start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period in a bid to ensure renters do not worry about the threat of losing their home.
However, McDonnell is urging the government to step in to help tenants who are struggling by completely exempting them from paying rent over the next three months.
A report compiled by the Labour MP states: “Where necessary rent payments should be suspended for a three-month period to enable people to feed themselves and their loved ones, and to avoid driving people into destitution,” the report says.
“At a time of widespread job losses and wage cuts of at least 20%, it is not unreasonable for landlords, many benefiting from a mortgage holiday, to prepare for small declines in their regular income."
Shadow housing minister John Healey is also urging the government to do more to help renters across the country.
He said: “Coronavirus is a public health emergency. It need not become a crisis of housing and homelessness too. But this will happen if the government continues to refuse to take the most basic steps to keep people in their homes.”