StepChange and Generation Rent have written an open letter to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick, warning that without urgent action, people will lose their homes when the rental eviction ban lifts on 23 August.
The organisations warned that unless temporary adjustments to the eviction process are accompanied by legal changes giving tenants more time to pay down arrears, many people risk losing their tenancies when the rental eviction ban is lifted.
StepChange and Generation Rent urged the government to commit to greater protections for the estimated 590,000 people who have fallen into rent arrears and are facing housing insecurity during the pandemic.
The letter recommended that plans to end Section 21 evictions must be accelerated, as well as urging temporary changes to Ground 8 to give courts discretion to suspend a possession order in cases where arrears have built up.
Phil Andrew, CEO of StepChange, said: “The coronavirus emergency has wreaked havoc on people’s finances – it’s not right that this turmoil should be accompanied by the threat of eviction.
“The government has shown through the announcement of its Breathing Space scheme, that it recognises the importance of allowing those in financial difficulty the space to recover.
“People who have fallen into rent arrears during the pandemic need the same respite.
“The government can grant them this space by making the legal changes needed to safeguard against unjust evictions and should also consider how it can help tenants pay off arrears where coronavirus has left them with no chance to repay.
“The knock-on consequences of debt and eviction can be severe for individuals and threaten to undermine the economic recovery for everyone.
“The government must act to prevent this.”
Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “Over half a million households are behind on their rent and people are terrified about losing their homes.
“The government must prevent Section 21 no fault evictions or Section 8 evictions for rent arrears built up during the pandemic.
“Renters urgently need reassurance that they will not lose their home due to the economic shock of Coronavirus, as the government promised in March.
“The government must use the final days of parliament to ensure that no home is at risk.”