Labour is today calling on the government to ban evictions for people who fall behind on their rent due to coronavirus. John Healey, Shadow Housing Secretary, is publishing draft legislation which Labour is urging the government to adopt immediately.
The new law would mean any non-payment of rent due to coronavirus would not count as legal grounds for eviction. It would cover the more than 20 million people – eight and a half million households – who rent their homes from private, council or housing association landlords, including three million households with children.
The move would bar landlords from evicting tenants who are off work and not getting paid due to coronavirus, by changing the legal basis on which landlords can seize possession of a rented property to exclude arrears which have built up due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It would initially cover any arrears that accumulate between 1 March 2020 and 1 September 2020, with the option to be extended as necessary. Two thirds of private renters and more than eight in 10 social renters have no savings, according to government data.
It follows Labour’s call at the weekend for emergency financial protection for people affected by the coronavirus, including rent deferrals and mortgage holidays, higher statutory sick pay, and income protection for insecure, low-paid and self-employed workers.
John Healey MP said “The coronavirus pandemic requires a rapid response from the government to protect families.
“Our current threadbare legal safety net means renters are vulnerable to eviction if they get ill and fall behind on their rent. The fear of being evicted may also mean workers are reluctant stay off work and self-isolate.
“Our emergency legislation would protect renters from eviction and we urge the government to work with us to adopt it and implement it at the earliest opportunity.
“This is an essential first step in public reassurance, giving people confidence they can follow official health advice in responding to coronavirus without putting their home at risk.”
LANDLORD AND TENANT (TEMPORARY PROVISIONS) BILL 2020
Coronavirus emergency rent relief
1) This Section applies where:
(a) a person (“A”) is:
(i) a protected or sttutory tenant within the meaning of the Rent Act 1977;
(ii) a secure tenant within the meaning of the Housing Act 1985; or,
(iii) an assured tenant within the meaning of the Housing Act 1988.
(b) A is under a contractual obligation to pay rent to a landlord under the aforementioned tenancy
(c) A has failed to pay rent that was lawfully due between 1 March 2020 and 1 September 2020
(d) That failure to pay rent was, in any way, related to the effects of the coronavirus disease
2) If the conditions in the previous clause are met, then the rent specified in sub-clause (c) is not to be treated as lawfully due for the purposes of:
(a) Schedule 15, Case 1, Rent Act 1977;
(b) Schedule 2, Ground 1, Housing Act 1985; or,
(c) Schedule 2, Grounds 8, 10, or 11, Housing Act 1988.
3) No court proceedings for a money judgment in respect of any arrears within the meaning of clause 1 may be brought before 1 December 2021.
4) The Secretary of State may, by Order, amend clause 1(c) to specify a later date than 1 September 2020 and may amend the date in subsection (3) to specify a later date than 1 December 2021.
5) In this Act, coronavirus disease means COVID-19