Government fails to bring forward evictions legislation ahead of ban lifting

Elliot Chappell

The government has ignored calls from Labour, local councils and charities and failed to bring forward new legislation to protect renters ahead of the ending of the coronavirus eviction ban at the end of next week.

In his statement setting out the parliamentary timetable for the next week, government deputy chief whip Stuart Andrew announced today that there would be not time allocated for MPs to debate evictions legislation before the suspension lifts.

Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire described how a lack of clarity from the government has created confusion for both renters and landlords and slammed its “chaotic handling of the evictions crisis”.

Commenting on the crisis facing renters in the pandemic, she said: “Labour has been saying for months that the government needs a credible plan to prevent a dramatic rise in homelessness when the ban on evictions is lifted.

“As things stand, we are facing the same cliff edge next week that the government narrowly avoided at the end of August.

“Ministers promised that no one would lose their home because of coronavirus. They must urgently change course, and bring forward the urgent legal changes that are needed before next week.”

The government introduced legislation in March that stopped landlords from taking court proceedings to evict people during Covid. The initial rule change was intended to last for three months but the government extended it to August 23rd.

It was then extended again to remain in place until September 20th, just days before it was due to be lifted last month. Labour leader Keir Starmer welcomed the last-minute move by the government as “necessary” but too brief.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told the public in March that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”, but housing charity Shelter has warned that 230,000 people are at risk of eviction.

Apart from on certain specific days – 13 Fridays for private members bills, 20 opposition days and 35 days allocated for the backbench business committee to set the agenda – the government decides what is debated in parliament.

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