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TENANTS are being kicked out of their homes due to rent arrears accrued during the Covid-19 crisis, an investigation revealing the extent of the pandemic’s impact on evictions has found.
In March 2020, former housing secretary Robert Jenrick claimed that no-one would lose their home as a result of the pandemic and implemented a ban on bailiff-enforced evictions.
However an unprecedented analysis of 555 court possession hearings over the summer has revealed that a third of cases where an eviction order was given explicitly mentioned the impact of Covid-19.
The analysis, carried out by the Bureau of Investigative Journalists and published today, found the average hearing lasted just under 10 minutes, with some possession orders granted in less than a minute.
Judges are required to grant an eviction order against any tenant who falls two months behind on their rent under what is known as ground 8. These cases made up 63 per cent of hearings monitored where a possession order was granted.
It comes despite housing campaigners’ repeated warnings that renters faced a “cliff edge” after the eviction ban was lifted in England in May and in Wales the following month if new protections were not introduced.
Tenant rights group Acorn campaigner Nick Ballard told the bureau: “The government completely failed to tackle the underlying factors of unaffordable housing and poverty, while merely kicking the can down the road throughout the pandemic.
“It is unconscionable that people are losing their homes due to arrears accrued solely during a global pandemic.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said its support package of £352 billion has helped renters throughout the pandemic and prevented a build-up of arrears.
Generation Rent director Alicia Kennedy said: “The pandemic has reminded us painfully of the need for a safe, secure home.
“The government cannot take us back to the old rental market where tenants have no idea where home will be in a year’s time and, all of a sudden, unavoidable loss of income can put your home on the line.
“As ministers finalise the long-awaited tenancy reforms they must apply the lessons and make sure that anyone facing eviction has a chance to make their case to stay put.”
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