The Mayor of London has called for an extension of the eviction ban as new figures show reports of rogue landlords have soared amid the pandemic.
Despite having no formal powers over the private rented sector, Sadiq Khan is calling on the government to give renters the same protection as commercial tenants who were granted an extension of the eviction ban until March.
“With the evictions ban ending next week, Ministers need to take urgent action to prevent people being evicted from their homes, putting in place a proper financial support package for those who have fallen into arrears through no fault of their own,” he said.
The Mayor’s “report a rogue landlord or agent” tool has seen a spike in complaints, with more than 1,400 between March and December 2020. One in five complainants is now reporting an unfair eviction.
Khan is calling for a comprehensive support package to prevent a surge in evictions and homelesness, including grants to help renters clear rent arrears. He is also asking for more powers to implement a two-year rent freeze in London as an “emergency measure”.
“The government must finally act on their promise to scrap ‘no fault’ evictions and give Mayors like me the powers to freeze rents until we have recovered from the huge economic impact of the pandemic.”
It echoes calls from Greater Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham who has warned of a spike in homelesness should the ban not be extended.
Landlord and tenant organisations have called on the government to support renters, as recent research by the National Residential Landlords Association found an increase in rent arrears has built up since the start of the pandemic.
“Working across seven London boroughs, Safer Renting has seen a massive increase in illegal eviction since the start of lockdown,” said Ben Reeve-Lewis, strategic case manager at Lambeth-based charity Safer Renting. “In the third quarter of 2020, Safer Renting’s work on illegal eviction had become so pressing, we had to take on more caseworkers to cope.”
A government spokesperson said: “We are reviewing the measures currently in place and will provide more detail shortly, taking into account public health advice.”