End of Eviction Moratorium

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:40 pm on 23rd September 2020.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Secretary of State for Housing 12:40 pm, 23rd September 2020

I congratulate Tim Farron on securing this urgent question, because it is scandalous that this Government are lifting the ban just as we are heading into a second wave of coronavirus. The chief medical officer gave a stark warning, but 16 public health bodies and charities also warned of a rise in covid infections if the Government force people into homelessness or overcrowding.

In March, as we all know, the Secretary of State promised that

“no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.”

The Government have reneged on that promise. They have failed to change the law to prevent automatic evictions. The courts might take a dim view, but with section 21 still on the statute book despite the Government saying they would get rid of it, the courts will have no choice. The Government have failed to prevent financial hardship—whatever the Minister says, many people are struggling with rent—and failed to deal with arrears, with the number of people in arrears having built up since the start of the crisis to over 300,000.

The Welsh Labour Government have a plan to prevent evictions and homelessness, but as with testing, this Government had summer to develop their plan and wasted it. They now choose to withdraw the protection of the evictions ban exactly when it is most needed. There have been last-minute chaotic announcements, creating a complex and confusing situation. Will the Minister confirm that the extension of notice periods will not help those who were served notice before 29 August? What steps are the Government taking to help tenants and landlords to navigate this complex situation? Why do lockdown regulations for Newcastle and Gateshead have no rules barring bailiffs from enforcing evictions? What are the Government doing to prevent illegal evictions, which are reportedly up by 50%? Why will they not stick to their commitment to remove section 21 and automatic evictions? Are they trying to collect any data that gives an accurate picture of the problem?

We are likely to see a rise in evictions and homelessness because of this Government’s incompetence. The Government must act now to prevent a wave of evictions just as covid rises this winter, and honour their promise to landlords and renters.