Greater Manchester leaders call for government to extend evictions ban

There are fears that evictions could lead to an increase in homelessness. Credit: PA

Leaders in Greater Manchester have asked the government to extend the temporary evictions ban over fears homelessness could rise.

A national ban on evictions for renters was introduced by Government at the start of the pandemic and is due to end next week, but the Greater Manchester Combined Authority want provisions for those affected to be introduced first. The ban will be lifted next week in England and Wales, but in Scotland politicians are considering an extension until March 2021, and the Welsh Government has extended notice periods to six months until end September 2020.GMCA Leaders say they fear “homelessness could return to the streets of Greater Manchester on a scale not seen since the 1930s” if rapid and decisive action is not taken to avert a crisis.A letter to the government said: "We urge you to make accommodations for the needs and requirements not only of Greater Manchester, but of districts in a similar position to ourselves - and we ask as a matter of great urgency to consider extending the evictions ban further until provisions have been put in place."

A YouGov survey for Shelter claims 174,000 private tenants have already been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent.

GMCA Lead on Housing and Homelessness, Paul Dennett, said: "The coronavirus crisis has been difficult for many in our city-region. We know that thousands of people are struggling to make ends meet due to losing their jobs or being furloughed."It is vital the Government extends the temporary ban on evictions and protects renters avoid a housing crisis in Greater Manchester.

"They should consider steps such as writing off rent arrears for those affected by the consequences of Covid-19, suspending the benefit cap and ensuring the courts enforce pre-action protocols for landlords. It will make a huge difference and help prevent a spike in rough sleeping."

The GMCA say they have re-housed 263 homeless people into settled accommodation and put a further 470 people into temporary homes, during lockdown, but that the evictions ban "has the potential to dwarf these successes".

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The Government has taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, including providing financial support to enable tenants to pay their living expenses and their rent, and this has helped ensure no one was forced from their home.

“New court rules will provide appropriate support to those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus when court proceedings start again, with landlords required to set out information about a tenant’s circumstances, including the effect of the pandemic on a tenant’s vulnerability, when bringing a possession claim.

“We’re committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and to ending rough sleeping for good. That’s why we changed the law so councils now have a duty to try to stop people from becoming homeless and have provided over half a billion pounds to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in 2020 and 2021.”