Happy New Year...
Or is it?
Christmas has been and gone, we’re a tentative week or so into 2021, and it’s all been a bit of a false start really, hasn’t it?
Lockdown Version 3.0 kicked off the other day, and with talk of this particular lockdown extending right the way through to the end of March, is it any wonder that all sides of the rental market are asking some pretty pertinent questions right now?
No, it isn’t a surprise, but at the moment, that’s all we’ve got – lots of questions and very few answers.
The Government is being urged to extend the current evictions moratorium (due to expire on January 11th) to take into consideration the fact that situations and circumstances are unlikely to have improved since the last extension.
Tenants may be experiencing illness, isolation, redundancy, bereavement – the works...
...and any evictions to take place in the next month or so would throw more and more people into the spiral of worsening poverty, escalating debt, and for some, the looming prospect of becoming homeless.
‘Vulnerability’ it’s called, and yes, we think that protection should continue to be afforded to those tenants who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, of whom there are so many.
Tenants who have lost jobs through no fault of their own.
Tenants who have cared for and subsequently lost relatives.
Tenants who have been forced to isolate or even shield.
...one thing that this latest call to the Government doesn’t take into consideration, is the fact that there are still tenants living in properties, not paying rent, building arrears of up to nearly a year in some cases, who were in financial difficulty long before the original lockdown.
These tenants have been using coronavirus as a ‘get out of jail free’ card, avoiding penalties, enforcement and evictions, when they were due no protection at all.
There have been extenuating circumstances of course, with things like domestic violence and criminal damage still allowing evictions to take place, but each case needs to be viewed on its own merits wherever possible, and that simply hasn’t been happening so far, for nearly a year.
The #TeamCES take home message then?
A moratorium extension should be considered, absolutely...
...but only granted to those who really, really need it.
Not to those who are exploiting the system to give themselves breathing space and a bit of a free ride.