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20 days to go to stop "disaster" of rent debt and evictions crisis

LESS THAN 20 days are left to avert a “disaster” of rent debt and an evictions crisis “worse than anything we’ve ever seen” in Britain, the London Renters Union (LRU) warned today.

The government’s temporary ban on evictions is set to end with the reopening of housing courts looming on June 25. 

Just 48 per cent of rent has been collected during the crisis, according to a survey by Remit consulting, indicating that thousands of renters have gone into arrears or seen existing rent debts spiral.

This puts them at great risk of eviction and homelessness, LRU warned.

The government has resisted calls to block landlords from seeking eviction notices or to stop courts approving them from June 25.

Housing lawyers have also warned that changes to repossession hearings will mean that tenants can no longer ask to be represented by a duty solicitor on the day.

“If you’re not rich, you will be denied justice and you’ll be stopped from properly defending yourself from eviction and homelessness,” an LRU statement said.

“A government that allows this is a government that doesn’t care about renters.”

LRU organiser Aaron, who is an NHS worker but whose total household income decreased severel during lockdown, said he had not paid rent for months in order to afford basic essentials. 

“And of course the veiled threats of eviction from our landlord began quickly, despite evictions supposedly being illegal right now,” he said. 

“It’s been really horribly stressful and I’m dreading the end of the month. It’s appalling that the government is prioritising landlords’ profits over renters’ survival. 

“Landlords own so much wealth, but they get mortgage holidays and it’s them subsidised by increases in housing benefit.”

Aaron warned that the “disaster” of rent debt and evictions crisis, which would be “worse than anything we’ve ever seen before in this country,” must be stopped.

“But the government’s no longer even offering stop-gap solutions,” he added. “They’re just leaving us to the mercy of our landlords.”

Thousands of renters have signed up to LRU’s “Can’t pay? Won’t pay!” campaign to withhold rent so that they can afford food and other essentials.

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