Ministers are being warned that around two million private renters are worried that they will be unable to find accommodation if the end of the eviction ban leads to them losing their home.
The government is being called on to push through emergency legislation to increase protections for those struggling to make rent due to the pandemic.
The eviction ban comes to an end this week and councils have warned that there is a “cliff edge” of homelessness on the horizon unless something is done.
The end of the ban will leave private renters exposed with many already cutting back on food and heating to keep up with bills.
Chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, Polly Neate, said the coronavirus crisis had uncovered a “broken” private rent sector in the country: “The end of the evictions ban is a day many terrified renters are dreading.
“The next few months present a scary time for the hundreds of thousands of renters who are in debt and already cutting back on just about everything, including food, to pay their rent. They know they are hanging on to their homes by a thread. The clock is now ticking for the government to stem the tide of evictions or face an even bigger homelessness crisis.”
The Labour Party, Local Government Association (LGA) and other charities have issued a call for the government to end “no-fault evictions” in which tenants are ousted by their landlords without reason.
The LGA’s housing spokesperson, Devid Renard, said: “The government was right to introduce the ban on evictions, and eviction enforcement, from the start of the pandemic. It gave vital reassurance to families who were at risk of losing their homes. We also understand that the ban cannot last indefinitely. However, lifting the ban will leave some households at the cliff edge of becoming homeless. This is why it is essential we ensure there is a safety net of support in place.”
A spokesperson for the government said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented action to support renters and help keep them in their homes including introducing a comprehensive £352 billion support package, which has prevented widespread build-up of rent arrears.
“Thanks to the success of the vaccine programme, national restrictions are gradually being eased and it’s now the right time to start to lift the emergency measures we put in place.
“Tenants will continue to be supported with longer notice periods and financial help is still available such as the furlough scheme, which has been extended until the end of September. Evictions will not be carried out if a member of the home has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.”
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