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Sun, 5 April 2020

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Labour accuses Boris Johnson of 'breaking his promise' to renters facing eviction over coronavirus

Labour accuses Boris Johnson of 'breaking his promise' to renters facing eviction over coronavirus

There are around 20 million renters in the UK

2 min read

Labour has accused Boris Johnson of "breaking his promise" to UK renters at risk of eviction as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Ministers last week promised a "complete ban" on evictions in a bid to allay the fears of those facing a drop on their incomes as a result of the crisis.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: "The Government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts."

But Shadow Housing Secretary John Healeu said the Coronavirus Bill, which has been introduced by the Government to help deal with the outbreak, goes back on that vow.

Instead of ruling out coronavirus-related evictions entirely, the bill only extends the eviction notice period that landlords have to give their tenants from two months to three months.

Mr Healey said: "With this legislation, Boris Johnson has broken his promise to the country's 20 million renters.

"This is not an evictions ban, as Labour argued for, and renters were eventually promised by Boris Johnson.

"This legislation does not stop people losing their homes as a result of coronavirus, it just gives them some extra time to pack their bags.

"It beggars belief that the Government is not willing to make this simple change. We even wrote to ministers to give them the legislation that would provide the protections renters need: to ban evictions and suspend rental payments beyond the crisis. This is the help already promised for struggling home-owners from government and mortgage lenders.

"Coronavirus is a public health emergency, it need not become a crisis of housing and homelessness too. But this will happen if the Government continues to refuse to take the most basic steps to keep people in their homes."

Meanwhile, the Government has announced that commercial tenants are being allowed to suspend their rent payments for at least three months during the Covid-19 epidemic.

Robert Jenrick said: "We know many commercial landlords are already setting a great example by working closely with tenants and offering rent deferrals or holidays.

"However, these new measures will provide reassurance to businesses struggling with cashflows and ensure no commercial tenant is evicted if they cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus over the next three months.”

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