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Renters out of work facing evictions with ban ending after lockdown, Tower Hamlets mayor warns

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 July 2020

Mayor John Biggs calls for government protection for renters in debt. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mayor John Biggs calls for government protection for renters in debt. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Tougher protection is needed for those living in privately rented homes who’ve lost jobs caused by coronavirus with the ban on evictions ending next month, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets is warning.

Tower Hamlets mayor trying to keep homeless off the streets fears more evictions are looming. Picture: Mike BrookeTower Hamlets mayor trying to keep homeless off the streets fears more evictions are looming. Picture: Mike Brooke

John Biggs is urging the government to take on measures to prevent evictions, following soundings from the Office for Budget Responsibility that unemployment could bust through levels not seen since the 1980s.

“Private tenants face a really tough time with the furlough scheme beginning to wind down,” the mayor said.

“Time is looming to get strong new legal protections in place as unemployment is rising while the ban on evictions is coming to an end.”

He wants the housing secretary to increase welfare support, suspend the benefit cap, restore local housing allowance to “market” rents, scrap ‘no fault’ evictions and prevent private landlords evicting those in debt because of Covid-19.

Renters have been fighting eviction legislation since 2016 when they first blocked Tower Bridge on protest march to City Hall. Picture: London renters' campaignRenters have been fighting eviction legislation since 2016 when they first blocked Tower Bridge on protest march to City Hall. Picture: London renters' campaign

The council has worked during lockdown to get rough sleepers off the streets, but fears rising unemployment could lead to a surge in numbers without a roof over their heads if tenants now face evictions.

It was among the first local authorities in 2016 to bring in a Renters’ Charter, followed by landlord licensing, but town hall sources say it now needs even stronger powers to protect renters.


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