No Coronavirus Evictions: Protect Greater Manchester Residents!

Paul Dennett, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

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In order to protect Greater Manchester’s private renters from eviction during the COVID-19 outbreak ACORN Manchester calls on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the 10 Local Authorities in the region to:

o Prevent Homelessness: Make a public statement of commitment that they will prevent any evictions and homelessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic beyond the government’s 3 month ban on evictions.

o Ask landlords to cooperate: Communicate with any landlords who are part of a Selective Licensing scheme and who hold HMO licenses to urge them to allow tenants financially affected by COVID-19 to remain housed, preventing homelessness, and providing information about support for both tenants and landlords.

o Renew & Expand Landlord Licensing: Carry out any pre-existing plans to renew and expand Selective Landlord Licensing schemes which were in place prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 as a matter of urgency.

Why?

There are over 400,000 people living in privately rented housing across Greater Manchester. According to Shelter, roughly 1.7 million renters expect to lose their job through the course of the COVID-19 lockdown. More exposed to the economic shocks of COVID-19, private renters are on the precipice, facing evictions and homelessness alongside unemployment due to this global pandemic.

National government announced a 3 month ban on evictions from 26th March in response to COVID-19. Since this announcement, nothing has been done to protect renters from building rent arrears, and the deadline for the initial 3 month period is rapidly closing in. Once the ban on evictions is lifted, there is no doubt that renters will be evicted because of rent arrears accrued due to and during the COVID-19 crisis.

As a city region committed to eradicating homelessness, we believe it is essential that GMCA and all ten Local Authorities in the region publicly state their commitment to preventing evictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and act on this commitment.

We know that all ten GM Local Authorities are in touch with private landlords in different ways, either through the mandatory licensing of HMOs or through selective licensing schemes. Communicating with landlords about using discretion and preventing evictions could be the difference between managing the removal of the evictions ban well and a wave of evictions which results in a vast rise in homelessness across the region.

Manchester City Council laid out plans to renew and expand the selective landlord licensing schemes in the city prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Landlord licensing across the city would mean greater protection for renters from rogue landlords and ensure that private renters across the city can feel safe in their homes without fear of illegal eviction. It would improve the conditions of private rented housing and give the Local Authority a way to guarantee residents’ homes are up to their standards and are well-managed. Now more than ever, it is clear that housing is a public health issue. The entire country has been confined to their homes, with many existing in cramped, overcrowded, damp flats with no outdoor space. Landlords should have checks and balances, the same as any other profession (e.g taxi drivers, dentists, butchers), to ensure minimum standards of service and upholding healthy living conditions.

With the government protecting the income of landlords and deeper indebting those suffering the most from the COVID-19 pandemic,[1] it’s about time the landlords profiting are held accountable. This is why it is essential that any plans to renew or expand licensing schemes continue as a matter of urgency within Greater Manchester.

While there is much to be done at a national level, we expect our local councils and GMCA to commit to preventing the wave of evictions which will rip through our communities without their action; and to protect those hardest hit by COVID-19.

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ACORN is a community and tenants union which campaigns to further the rights of ordinary people by organising where we live to stand up to landlords, businesses and governments. ACORN Manchester is the local branch for Greater Manchester.

Get in touch to find out more about out Landlord Licensing campaign - manchester@acorncommunities.org.uk.

ACORN are also campaigning on a national scale for housing security for all during and after the Coronavirus emergency. Find out more and join the #HousingIsHealth campaign here.

Join our movement and find out more.

[1] Christine Berry, Laurie Macfarlane, Shreya Nanda, ‘Who Wins and Who Pays? Rentier Power and the COVID Crisis’, IPPR, May 2020 (URL: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/who-wins-and-who-pays, last accessed 17/5/2020).
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To: Paul Dennett, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
From: [Your Name]

​In order to protect Greater Manchester’s private renters from eviction during the COVID-19 outbreak we call on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the 10 Local Authorities in the region to:

o Prevent Homelessness: Make a public statement of commitment that they will prevent any evictions and homelessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic beyond the government’s 3 month ban on evictions

o Ask landlords to cooperate: Communicate with any landlords who are part of a Selective Licensing scheme and who hold HMO licenses to urge them to allow tenants financially affected by COVID-19 to remain housed, preventing homelessness, and providing information about support for both tenants and landlords

o Continue plans for Landlord Licensing: Carry out any pre-existing plans to renew and expand Selective Landlord Licensing schemes which were in place prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 as a matter of urgency.