The number of people infected by Coronavirus is now matching the first peak in May 2020, with around 6,000 new cases per day. Several local lockdowns are in place and government is daily adding to restrictions in movement. Yet absent is any reinstatement of the eviction moratorium, nor sign of housing associations utilising their considerable wealth to help struggling tenants and residents.
SHAC calls on the thirteen large housing associations to take a positive lead in the housing association sector by agreeing to cease evictions for the foreseeable future and waive rents and service charges for those suffering economically as a result of the pandemic. We call on them not to add to the growing numbers of homeless people on our streets, nor being forced to live in overcrowded accommodation.
Associations Can Afford to do More
Despite their wealth, housing associations have shown little leadership on maintaining tenancies since lockdown began in March. In August, each chief executive of the twelve ‘G15 Group’ (London’s largest housing associations) received a letter from SHAC calling for them to agree rent and service charge waivers for those hit economically by the pandemic – their financial reports showed that they could afford it.
Only three chief executives responded to our first letter: L&Q, Clarion, and Metropolitan Thames Valley. While there are clearly tenancy support systems in place at these associations, none prevent the accumulation of debt by tenants and residents whose income has been hit.
It is time for the boards to do more and agree to #NoEvictions. Protests by a broad alliance of housing campaign groups including SHAC which was highlighted in the media successfully extended the initial evictions ban and lengthened the notice period for possession orders. These were important victories, but more could be done and SHAC will continue to press for improved tenancy protections.
Clarion Takes a Step Forward
Since Clarion responded to our first letter in August, the association has changed its position on evictions. Their letter of 29th September stated:
“during these unprecedented times you are absolutely correct that Clarion has tolerated greater rent and service charge arrear levels. Eviction is always a last resort, even in normal circumstances, and for residents who were managing their account before the pandemic and have since fallen into arrears, Clarion has taken the decision not to pursue formal possession proceedings.” (See letter and full response below)
This is a positive first step, and we hope that all associations take note, following suit by revising their own policies.
Individual letters and responses:
- One Housing Group
- A2 Dominion
- Southern Housing Group
- Network Homes
- Metropolitan Thames Valley
- Notting Hill Genesis
- Guinness Partnership
See the full article on letters to chief executives here – letter and responses below:
SHAC No Evictions Letter Template – 3rd August 2020
2020 08 07 Response from Metropolitan Thames Valley
2020 08 06 Response from Clarion
2020 08 06 Response from L&Q
25 September 2020