News: Landlords asked not to evict as council pleads poverty

Fri, 16 Oct 20

A London council is writing to thousands of private landlords in its borough urging them not to evict people.

Southwark council says this is a time of great uncertainty, with COVID cases on the increase and unemployment rising, and the country faces a deepening housing crisis.

The authority says when private landlords evict tenants, it often falls to the council to house those who find themselves homeless. 

With economic instability after jobs were halted during lockdown, the council says it’s seeing its waiting list for council housing go from 10,000 to 13,000 in recent months. Rough sleeping is also beginning to increase, with 17 people currently sleeping outside.

Whilst some funding has been made available from central government, the council claims in a statement that “it is in no way commensurate with the need in Southwark.”

The government gave the council £33,000 for the Everyone In project rehousing homeless people in the spring, and a further £545,000 for services to those the authority cannot house under statutory duty – the majority of clients are vulnerable and many have no recourse to public funds. Last week, the government offered Southwark council a further £1m.

A larger package of £30m was made available, but that is expected to cover the full services for the council, not just housing.

A council spokeswoman says: “What is desperately needed is long term, consistent and adequate funding from the government to tackle homelessness and end rough sleeping – particularly for those who we cannot lawfully support – and for the government to make good on its pledge to cover our COVID related costs. 

“As well as this, we need private landlords to play their part and keep a roof over tenants’ heads, and to help with the supply of homes for people as properties become empty. It should never happen that we see people becoming homeless, especially as we approach colder months, and the more difficult economic times ahead.”

As well as asking landlords to stop evictions the letter goes on to urge them to take part in the council’s accreditation and guaranteed rent scheme, where both tenants and landlords alike can benefit from secure housing and consistent rent payments.

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