Government to stop new evictions of renters who can't afford to pay during coronavirus 'national emergency'

  • Video report by ITV News Wales & West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the coronavirus "national emergency" is to be introduced by the Government.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced the plans to ensure landlords cannot start legal proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.

It is a move to ensure renters do not worry about losing their home, as many face pay cuts and reduced working hours amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

"No renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts," Mr Jenrick said.

"These are extraordinary times... (the legislation is) ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.

Landlords will not be able to evict tenants for at least three months. Credit: PA

The move was welcomed by homelessness charity Shelter, which said the measures would come as a "great relief to many people".

Chief executive Polly Neate said: "Without this decisive action, tens of thousands of renters would have been faced with eviction in the coming months, while potentially trying to isolate and protect themselves and others.

"At Shelter, we'd already heard horror stories from terrified renters threatened witheviction by irresponsible landlords, including vital NHS workers. Now this shocking behaviour will be stopped in its tracks.

"The Government has done the right thing. There are 20 million renters in England who will benefit from this protection - which is a vital emergency measure to keep people safe and in their homes."

Boris Johnson announced the legislation on Wednesday afternoon. Credit: PA

Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday they would do "whatever it takes" to help the UK economy, as the number of people in the UK thought to have Covid-19 rose to 55,000 and the death toll reached 104 on Wednesday.

Measures unveiled by Mr Sunak included £330bn of government-backed loans - equivalent to 15% of GDP - and a package of tax cuts and grants worth more than £20 billion.

Mr Sunak announced a three-month mortgage payment holiday to homeowners, which will now also be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £330bn fund to help the UK economy on Tuesday. Credit: PA

Earlier on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump also announced a suspension of foreclosures and evictions for the month of April, to ease pressures on tenants and homeowners.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday the Government was also looking at a universal basic income scheme to help workers whose finances had been affected by coronavirus.

Almost 500 experts have signed an open letter organised by Dr Neil Howard of the University of Bath, calling for the urgent implementation of universal basic income.

Mr Blackford said: "Thousands of people are already losing their jobs, it's happening today."

"Millions will face the same threat.

"They need reassurance and support, and they need it today.

"They need an income guarantee," he said.

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