London faces an “impending tsunami of evictions” if the Government does not protect private renters in the wake of Covid-19 lockdown, Sadiq Khan has warned.
The Mayor wrote to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick accusing ministers of having “no robust plans” to prevent mass homelessness.
During the pandemic, landlords have not been allowed to evict tenants – but this protection will end on August 23, and with many renters building up arrears there are widespread fears that some will lose their homes.
Ministers have said tenants and landlords should agree their own repayment plan, but Mr Khan claims this strategy is “unrealistic”.
There are now 2.7 million renters in the capital, according to research by property company CBRE – and a third of these households are families with children, the Mayor’s Office has said.
Mr Khan is now calling on ministers to extend the eviction protection until “the end of the pandemic” and introduce a triple-lock to stop renters becoming homeless.
The triple lock would mean:
- Extending benefits to cover rent that tenants can’t pay because of the virus, including any arrears they’ve built up;
- Banning Section 8 arrears notices, which can lead to court-ordered eviction, if tenants have built up debt because of the virus;
- And ending so-called no fault evictions – Section 21 orders, that allow landlords to end a tenancy with 2 months’ notice – so they cannot be used as an alternative to a Section 8.
In March, the Government banned evictions until 25 June – but ministers extended the measure to late August amid the ongoing pressures of the pandemic.
But there was no further support for renters in the Chancellor’s mini-budget on Wednesday – with tenants’ charity Generation Rent calling it a “tragic” missed opportunity.
The Mayor is also calling for more cash for councils to help them house anyone who becomes homeless because of the virus.
He says landlords who are getting mortgage holidays during the pandemic should be forced to tell their tenants, so they can be exempt from rent payments while the mortgage is going unpaid.
He also called on the Government to end ‘right to rent’, which requires landlords to ensure their tenants have a legal right to live in Britain – a policy the Mayor said is “discriminatory”.
In his letter to the Housing Secretary, Mr Khan accused the Government of a “toothless” plan that “will fail to prevent a cliff edge in evictions” in the capital.
“The imbalance of power between renters and landlords means that the Government’s reliance on them agreeing ‘affordable repayment plans’ is unrealistic, particularly in London where the shortage of housing creates competition amongst tenants and gives them little option but to agree to a landlord’s terms,” he wrote.
“In a matter of weeks, local authority housing services could be overwhelmed, and we could see a flood of people being forced onto the streets,” he warned.