Briefing: House of Lords debate on the risk of mass evictions resulting from COVID-19-related poverty

By: Reshima Sharma
Published: April 2021

Briefing: House of Lords debate on the risk of mass evictions resulting from COVID-19-related poverty

At the start of the March 2020 lockdown, the government put in place a package of emergency housing measures to keep people safe in their homes during the pandemic. This included restoring Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile, suspending possession proceedings, and extending notice periods.

However, over the course of the pandemic, people have fallen through the gaps in support. Hundreds of thousands of renters have fallen into rent arrears. Private renters have been illegally evicted from their homes. People with No Recourse to Public Funds have lost their jobs but have been left with no safety net to fall back on.

To prevent further evictions and support renters struggling to stay afloat, Shelter is calling on the government to:

1. Strengthen the welfare safety net, by removing the benefit cap, making the uplift to Universal Credit permanent, and unfreezing Local Housing Allowance.
2. Support private renters, by putting in place a package of funding to help renters clear arrears built up during the pandemic, and urgently bring forward the Renters Reform Bill in order to finally put an end to Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
3. Suspend the No Recourse to Public Funds condition, for at least the duration of the pandemic to ensure everyone can access the welfare safety net in times of need.
4. Provide councils with enough funding to properly resource their tenancy relations service in order to help prevent harassment and unlawful evictions in the private rented sector.
5. Invest in a new generation of social housing, to lift hundreds of thousands out of homelessness and poverty into affordable, permanent homes.