Campaigners from various housing pressure groups, tenants, residents, and housing workers assembled in front of the iconic Royal Courts of Justice to protest on Sunday 23rd August, originally planned as the final day of the eviction ban.
Their anti-eviction protest went ahead despite an eleventh-hour extension of the eviction ban – a stay of execution of just four weeks. The government policy change also provided a longer process of eviction for tenants in England.
The changes were announced on Friday 21st August and marked a victory for those who have campaigned against courts reopening to process possession orders. However, instead of taking the heat out of the campaign, the extra time will be used to build an even broader coalition.
The message from all present was loud and clear: The eviction ban has been extended to the 21st September – so we will be back in September and will continue to fight.
Speaker Jack Jeffery of the Unite Housing Workers Branch and a homelessness worker eloquently described the suffering of those forced to sleep without adequate shelter, food or facilities. SHAC Chair Niall Mulholland added:
“We demand that where landlords can afford it, they cancel rents and service charges for those taking a financial hit as a result of the Covid pandemic. In all other cases, an emergency package needs to be put together to help landlords waive the rents.”
Molly Ayton told of how Notting Hill Genesis has raised some keyworker rents by up to 25% despite knowing the hardship being experienced by its tenants. Janette Welsh of Radical Housing Network emphasised the determination of campaigners to keep up the pressure. A Peabody tenant highlighted the increasing tendency of housing associations to sell urgently needed decent housing stock. Glyn Robbins of Homes for All concluded that “we need a month of housing rage to turn temporary concessions into permanent homes for all”.
The action involved SHAC, the Unite Housing Workers Branch, Radical Housing Network, London Renters Union (LRU), ACORN, Homes for All and others.
London Renters Union will continue with localised protests from Monday 24th.
23 August 2020