Labour is calling on the government to unveil new measures to protect renters beyond June after the Bank of England warned the coronavirus crisis will send the UK economy crashing to its biggest recession in more than 300 years.
Among the measures announced by Labour, the party would like to see the three-month ban on evictions in England and Wales extended and renters given two years to pay back rent arrears accrued because of the coronavirus crisis.
Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow secretary of state for housing, said: “Current protections for people renting their homes are woefully inadequate. Unless the government acts now, many thousands of tenants will be at risk of losing their homes.”
Labour proposed emergency legislation sets out the following five-point plan due to be presented to the government:
Extend the temporary ban on evictions for six months or however long is needed to implement the legal changes below.
Give residential tenants the same protections as commercial tenants, by protecting them from being made bankrupt by their landlords for non-payment of rent.
Bring forward the government’s proposal to scrap Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions and outlaw evictions on the grounds of rent arrears if the arrears were accrued because of hardship caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Once evictions are prevented, grant renters at least two years to pay back any arrears accrued during this period.
Speed up and improve the provision of Universal Credit, as Labour recently called for, and consider a temporary increase to the Local Housing Allowance to help prevent risk of homelessness.
More than 4,000 Labour members have signed an open letter calling on the party’s leader, Sir Keir Starmer, to “cancel the rent”.
The letter accuses the Labour Party of “failing renters”, says its “solutions simply are not good enough”, and concludes that “it’s time for the people’s bailout. Cancel the rent.”
In an email to members, Momentum said: “Over a third of private renters live in poverty and two thirds have no savings. Even before coronavirus, almost half working renters were one pay cheque away from losing their home.
“Now millions of renters are at high risk of losing their jobs. Yet Labour’s new policy would see renters shoulder the cost of the crisis.
“It would require renters to pay back all rent missed during the crisis over a two year period – the equivalent of a 12% rent rise amidst the worst recession for three hundred years.
“Renters deserve better than this. Sign this open letter calling on Labour to back a policy of rent cancellation, not deferral.”