Council pledges support for tenants facing eviction loophole
Date published: 05 March 2021
Councillor Hannah Roberts
Oldham Council is backing a national campaign to protect private renters from facing eviction due to rent arrears built up because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A loophole to the eviction ban means that tenants across the UK who owe more than six months’ rent are now at risk of eviction.
In addition to lobbying for change, Council officers are also urging any Oldham residents who find themselves in this situation, to reach out to them for support.
Councillor Hannah Roberts, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This is outrageous - the government pledged that nobody would lose their home because of coronavirus, and they should be true to their word.
“Oldham Council adds its support to the campaign to put a stop to this and we will do whatever it takes to protect Oldham renters from eviction and homelessness.”
The campaign is being spearheaded by the London Renters Union, alongside trade union leaders, who have written to Housing Minister, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, calling for urgent action.
Since September, the eviction ban has allowed landlords to go ahead with evictions in exceptional circumstances, such as when tenants are behaving anti-socially or had accrued extreme levels of rent arrears.
These “substantial” rent arrears were previously defined in law as equivalent to nine months’ rent, but debt accrued since the first lockdown on March 23 was not allowed to be counted in the total – ensuring people who had lost their jobs during the pandemic would not be made homeless.
But the legislation introduced in January removes this protection and redefines substantial arrears.
A tenant can now be evicted if they have been unable to pay their rent for six months.
Rent accrued since the pandemic began is no longer excluded.
Cllr Roberts said: “Those hit hardest by the pandemic, through no fault of their own, could now lose their home because of this loophole.
"It is disgraceful and cruel.
“Oldham Council is here to help residents struggling with housing and we will work closely with our partners to provide advice and support.”
For more information, visit the Tenancy Relations Service, which can provide advice on lawful eviction as well as proceedings during Covid-19. Just click here
If you are struggling and need welfare support, including help to heat your home or pay bills, visit: www.oldham.gov.uk/wecanhelp for advice.
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