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Lifting eviction ‘ban’ could worsen Covid second wave, campaigners warn

THE expiry of the government’s eviction ban on Monday will lead to thousands of people losing their home and risks worsening the new wave of coronavirus infections, housing campaigners and public-health experts warned today.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has so far refused to extend the suspension of eviction proceedings, despite the daily total of new Covid-19 cases increasing to between 3,000 and nearly 4,000 this week.

“There couldn’t be a worse time to lift the eviction ban,” said campaigner Siddhartha Mehta of health charity Medact.

Michael Deas of the London Renters Union said:  “If ministers want to show that public health matters more than the profits of landlords, they should introduce a permanent evictions ban and cancel rent debt.”

The ban on landlords starting eviction proceedings in court came into force in April and was extended in June. In August, the government extended the measure for a second time, just a few days short of its scheduled expiry date, but it is now due to lapse on Monday.

In addition, ministers introduced a six-month notice period for new evictions, but tens of thousands of people who received eviction notices before the change and those in “extreme” rent arrears remain at risk of becoming homeless this winter. 

The government had also announced small changes, including a requirement for landlords to inform courts of how their tenants have been affected by Covid-19. But this requirement appears to have been made optional in updated guidance.

The most recent extension followed pressure from political parties and a letter from 16 public-health bodies to Mr Jenrick urging him to maintain the ban.

Signatories included the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal Society of Public Health, Medact, Pathway and the London Renters Union.

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