Campaigners protest outside Leeds Crown Court calling for urgent action to protect struggling renters

Protesters staged a demonstration in Leeds city centre on Saturday calling for urgent action to prevent a wave of evictions following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunday, 23rd August 2020, 6:00 am

A ban on evictions was introduced in the UK in March as some people saw their incomes plummet.

The Government announced on Friday that it had extended the ban on evictions for a further four weeks, taking the total ban to six months.

But social justice union ACORN said this four-week delay is not enough to prevent a 'wave of homelessness' when the freeze comes to an end on September 20.

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Protesters gathered outside Leeds Crown Court on Saturday calling for further legislation to protect renters

Protesters gathered outside Leeds Crown Court at midday on Saturday calling for further legislation to protect renters who have fallen into financial hardship during the pandemic.

The campaigners waved red banners and flags and chanted in support of renters who are facing the threat of eviction.

ACORN Leeds says it has helped waive almost £8,000 worth of rent arrears for tenants in the city who have lost income as a direct result of the pandemic.

Student Aleesha joined the union after her job was suspended indefinitely at the beginning of lockdown and she lost all pay. As a student, she was ineligible to claim Universal Credit to cover the cost of her rent.

The campaigners waved red banners and chanted in support of renters who are facing eviction

Aleesha said: "It became apparent that I would not be able to afford my rent. I explained my financial difficulties to my letting agency, but they expressed no sympathy.

"When I contacted ACORN, we got a team together and decided to carry out an email ‘jam’.

"About 500 people used our template to send the agency an email in support of me in 24 hours. The very next day the agency agreed to pay off three months worth of rent arrears and return my deposit in full”.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government plans to give tenants greater protection from eviction this winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with six months' notice.

An announcement said it would apply to all cases other than those raising serious issues such as antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators until at least March 31.

Mr Jenrick said on Friday: "I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of Covid-19. That is why today I am announcing a further four week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for six months.

"I am also increasing protections for renters – six month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.

"However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again; and so when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases."

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