Funders join forces to demand better for renters hit by Covid-19

A group of charitable funders have written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick MP, to propose further support for renters and people experiencing homelessness.

The letter is signed by 12 charitable funders that have provided over £110 million funding into housing and homelessness in the UK over the last three years.

Despite the recent extension of the moratorium on evictions to August 25th, the funders warn that there is a risk of large increases in homelessness, financial hardship and indebtedness, which could overwhelm local authorities and homelessness and advice services over the summer.

Specifically, the letter calls on government to go further in support of tenants, by bringing forward much awaited legislation to outlaw no-fault evictions; preventing tenants being made homeless due to non-payment of rent during the pandemic; and implementing an increase to Local Housing Allowance.

Government guidance issued last week extended the temporary stay on eviction proceedings, meaning that no tenant should be evicted before August 25th 2020. What remains in question, however, is what will happen to tenants once that ban is lifted and landlords can take legal action to evict them. The funders want to see meaningful steps taken to improve things now, to stop existing problems building up or getting worse.

The letter makes the following calls on the Secretary of State:

  • Protecting renters who have accrued arrears as a direct result of the pandemic  
  • Increasing Local Housing Allowance to ensure that further rental arrears are not built up due to gaps in the benefits system
  • Bringing forward Renters’ Reform legislation so that no-fault evictions are abolished as soon as possible
  • Implementing a temporary pause on rent increases so that tenants hit financially by Covid-19 are not also impacted by rising housing costs 
  • Ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit
  • Changing the benefit cap regime so that tenants in high rent areas, who may now need government assistance for the first time, can benefit from that support
  • Implementing a 12-month suspension of ‘no recourse to public funds’ restrictions, to enable financial support for those who would otherwise return to rough sleeping
  • Reinstating the duty court solicitor for housing, benefits and debt cases, as well as funding courts, local Citizens Advice bureaux and community law centres to support the digitally excluded.

Bridget Young, who leads the Nationwide Foundation’s private rented sector work said: “The common-sense measures we call for would provide certainty for tenants in these difficult times. What’s more, their adoption would seek to stop a new generation of individuals and families being locked into the cycle of temporary accommodation and insecure housing. As a country still working through the effects of this pandemic, we can and must do better.”

The full list of funders that have signed the letter are:

Charity Bank

City Bridge Trust

Lloyds Bank Foundation

The London Legal Support Trust

The Nationwide Foundation

Ovo Foundation

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Trust for London

The Tudor Trust

Walton Charity

The Wates Family Enterprise Trust

World Habitat