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Private Rented Sector

Volume 687: debated on Monday 11 January 2021

The Government are committed to enhancing renters’ security by abolishing no-fault evictions. During the covid-19 pandemic, our collective efforts have been focused on protecting people during the outbreak. This has included introducing longer notice periods and preventing evictions at the height of the pandemic on public health grounds. We will introduce a renters’ reform Bill very soon.

I thank the Minister for her response. Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of being evicted when the ban is lifted. The covid crisis has highlighted underlying problems in the private rented sector, including families being forced into expensive and insecure housing. Local organisations in my constituency, including Stockport Tenants Union and ACORN, have long campaigned to end section 21 evictions, but when will the Minister deliver her manifesto commitment to do the same?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. We are committed to abolishing no-fault evictions under section 21. Obviously, we have already taken some action. Last week, for example, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State increased the ban on evictions for a further six weeks. We have also introduced six months’ notice, which means that people who receive an order now will find that it will not go through the courts until July. We are committed to making sure that we protect anybody who is suffering homelessness. That has been borne out by the level of investment that we have put into the sector during the pandemic. We will keep all these measures under review.

Millions of hard-working people are excluded from every covid scheme—newly self-employed or employed, small business owners, people with mixed employment, even some on maternity or paternity leave who have lost work because of covid but have little or no Government support. The Government’s own stats show that hundreds of thousands have fallen behind on rent. A loophole in the new evictions rules means that anyone with more than six months in arrears is at risk of eviction. When the Secretary of State said that no one should lose their home because of coronavirus, did he or did he not mean that?

I regret that the hon. Lady does not recognise the unprecedented steps that this Government have taken in an unprecedented global pandemic to support renters and people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping. Our data show that our measures to protect renters are working. We have had a 54% reduction in households owed a homelessness duty to the end of an assured tenancy from April to June compared with January to March. Ministry of Justice stats show no possessions recorded between April and September. We have put a ban on evictions, given a six-month notice period, extended buy-to-let mortgage holidays, provided £700 million to support rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness, provided 3,300 next steps accommodation, given £6.4 billion to local authorities to deal with the impact of covid, helped 29,000 people with Everyone In, and saw 19,000 move on to settled protection. The list goes on and on. We know that people are experiencing hardship in these times, and this Government will continue to review and take the necessary action to ensure people in this country are protected.