Council urges government to extend eviction ban

Published: Thursday, 20th August 2020

Oxford City Council is calling on the government to extend the temporary eviction ban to protect private tenants and prevent a surge of homelessness in Oxford.

A national ban on evictions for renters was introduced by the government at the start of the pandemic and is due to end on Monday 24 August. In a letter to secretary of state Robert Jenrick, Councillor Alex Hollingsworth says it should be extended to prevent a disproportionate impact on Oxford’s tenants and that there should also be an immediate end to ‘no fault’ evictions.

Shelter has warned that 230,000 private renters across the country could face homelessness when the eviction ban ends. A house condition survey in April showed that 49% of Oxford’s housing stock is in the private rented sector – by some distance the largest proportion of housing in the city. Oxford is the least affordable city in the UK and the economic impact of the pandemic – together with the end of the national furlough scheme on 31 October – mean that resuming evictions would put many private tenants at risk of homelessness.

In his letter Cllr Hollingsworth says “this cannot be allowed to happen” and points out that resuming evictions would undermine the council’s work with government and local partners to end rough sleeping in Oxford during the pandemic. Last month the council secured 124 rooms of interim housing as a bridge from the streets to settled housing.

The eviction ban is due to be lifted on Monday (24 August) in England and Wales. In Scotland politicians are considering an extension of the ban until March 2021, and the Welsh government has extended notice periods to six months until the end of September. Cllr Hollingsworth says that the government should follow its reversal on exam grades and bring a last minute halt to the resumption of evictions.

“The government has extended mortgage holiday payments for buy to let landlords and it should give the same protection to their tenants. Ending the eviction ban would have a disproportionate effect in Oxford and the government needs to take urgent action to ensure this doesn’t happen. It also needs to deliver the Renters Reform Bill promised in the Queen’s Speech last November and end section 21 evictions for good now.”

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery

Read the full text of Cllr Hollingsworth’s letter to communities secretary Robert Jenrick here.