A ban on evictions must be extended for at least another year and rent arrears cancelled, former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell warned tonight.

The ex-frontbencher, who led Labour’s economic policy for four-and-a-half years, called for a long term shakeup to “end landlordism and restore housing as a right”.

Companies and trusts should be blocked from buying homes and there should be a legal limit on the number of properties individual landlords can own, he demanded.

Mr McDonnell, who was at Jeremy Corbyn’s side at the top of Labour from September 2015 to April this year, outlined the plan in his ‘Claim the Future’ project, which, he says, offers a “radical and optimistic vision of what we can build together”.

Landlords were banned from booting out tenants to prevent a surge in homelessness at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the halt is due to end on August 24.

“Many cannot rely upon the goodwill of their landlords to prevent them losing their homes.

“That’s why it is premature to end the ban on evictions, especially with so many jobs being lost and incomes drying up.

“Councils will face a torrent of people turning up on their doorstep as homeless.

“The ban on evictions must be extended for as long as the risk of Covid persists.

“The reality is at least another year but we also need a reform of the law to end the ease by which landlords can deprive a family of their home.”

He highlighted Claim the Future’s recommendations to restrict greedy property tycoons buying up homes during the virus crisis.

He added: “Questions also have to be asked about why companies should be allowed to make large scale profits from people’s need for a roof over their heads.

“Housing should be a right for all, not an investment opportunity for a few.”

Landlords were banned by the government from bringing eviction proceedings against their tenants for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That ban ends next Sunday and evictions can restart from Monday 24 August.

Landlords will have to submit a ‘reactivation notice’ in which they set out information about the tenants’ circumstances, including whether Covid-19 has hit their rent.

But campaigners say even with those notices, “no fault” and rent arrears evictions will still be able to go ahead.

An MHCLG spokesperson said:

“The Government has taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, helping prevent people getting into financial hardship or rent arrears and for businesses to pay staff salaries – ensuring no-one has been evicted during the height of the pandemic.

“We will provide appropriate support to those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus when proceedings start again.

“New rules will require landlords to provide more information about their tenants’ situation with regards to the pandemic when seeking an eviction, with judges able to adjourn a case if this information isn’t provided.

“Legislation introduced in March requiring landlords to give all tenants three months’ notice will remain in force for possession cases, including section 21 evictions, until September 30.”

Ben Glaz, Mirror, 16 August 2020

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