Statement on the Government’s extension to the ban on evictions
With cases of Coronavirus back on the rise, Birmingham City Council wholeheartedly welcomes the decision by Government announced today to extend its national ban on evictions for renters.
Without this extension, there was widespread concern that it would lead to a surge in homelessness and Birmingham wrote to Government urging them to take action and provide financial assistance to support renters and landlords.
However, this is not enough by itself. We need the Government to expand the support available for both renters and landlords. In Birmingham, a large portion of housing in the private-rented sector is owned by those who aren’t large portfolio landlords. They may simply rent one or two houses to families. While the extension of the evictions ban is an important and positive step forward in avoiding unnecessary, additional cases of homelessness, we need to be careful that it isn’t in place too long without help for tenants and landlords.
If tenants can’t pay rent, landlords cannot pay their mortgages. If the ban continues for too long and landlords can’t pay their mortgages, many of these smaller landlords, may be forced to give up their properties, which in turn will inevitably again cause homelessness.
The council is urging Government to develop and fund a temporary Rent Support scheme for those who have accrued arrears during the Covid-19 lock down, aimed at households who have either lost jobs or have been furloughed on low incomes.
The council is also strongly urging all of its own tenants who have concerns or have found themselves struggling financially to pay their bills to contact the council directly. As a landlord to over 60,000 households, it too has found that rent arrears have increased by almost £4.5m since lockdown first began. In response, the council has contacted more than 18,000 tenants to try and understand what further help can be given to prevent them from falling any further into debt.
Help and support is available to all residents in Birmingham, and it is never too late to start making a financial change. However, if tenants can afford to pay their rent, the authority is strongly urging tenants to make this a priority so that inevitably, when the ban is lifted on 20 September, they don’t find themselves in a situation which is avoidable.
We would also strongly urge private landlords to act sympathetically and sensitively and support their tenants who are struggling at this difficult time so they will not be facing eviction in the future.
For more information on the help and support available for tenants, please visit: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50233/support_for_residents_during_the_coronavirus_covid-19/2127/housing