Living Rent have launched a petition to protect renters from eviction during the coronavirus pandemic
The tenant’s union, Living Rent, has just launched a petition addressed to the Scottish Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart, to encourage him to back their demands of halting evictions and granting “rent holidays” to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The petition has almost 1,000 signatures at the time of writing.
The petition lists two demands:
- Implement a pause on any and all evictions in both the private and social rented sector during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Grant all renters affected by coronavirus a “rent holiday” and pause rent collections, including for those who are unable to work or need to self-isolate.
Living Rent says that these measures are necessary as coronavirus is not just a health concern for tenants, but also a financial concern. They explain that self-isolation is “near impossible” for many people with low-paid or precarious jobs who would struggle to pay their rent if they contracted the virus.
With over a fifth of UK households being privately rented and considering that the UK has one of lowest rates of statutory sick pay at £94.25 per week, many people are concerned that they will be unable to pay their rent. This is estimated to be around 20% of the median UK wage, whereas in several European countries, statutory sick pay is around 65% of the median wage.
In their statement, Living Rent added that people should not face homelessness for keeping themselves and others safe during the pandemic: “If we’re serious about containing the spread of the virus, tenants need to know that they won’t face destitution for doing the responsible thing. That has to mean stopping rent collections for anyone affected”.
Spokesperson for Living Rent, David Hanson, said: “As the Covid-19 pandemic worsens, it is crucial that tenants are protected from the potentially devastating economic effects of the virus. People renting are far more likely to be in the kind of precarious, low-paid work where taking time off to self-isolate is near impossible. If landlords are being given ‘mortgage holidays,’ then it is imperative that these protections are passed on fully to tenants.
“This is why we’ve launched our petition calling on the Scottish Government to halt all evictions and implement a temporary rent freeze. If we’re serious about containing the spread of the virus, tenants need to know that they won’t face destitution for doing the responsible thing. That means that the barrier of high-housing costs has to be eased, urgently.”
Governments have encouraged banks to grant “mortgage holidays” to those affected by coronavirus; Living Rent argues that this should also extend to rent payments.
More information and the petition can be found on Living Rent’s website.