UK: Evictions held over, hotels for the homeless — Covid is upending housing

The legal situation has been changing so rapidly that even full-timers are struggling to keep up, but with the introduction of Practice Direction 51Z it looks like eviction proceedings are finally off the table for now and we have time to take stock of what is now utterly uncharted territory in British housing.

Minutes after I’d finished an article regarding the situation regarding squats and ongoing evictions in Britain the information became outdated, as emergency procedural changes were brought in by the government, in theory protecting everyone, squatters, renters, and the street homeless, from the risks of being out on the streets during this period. Let’s explore what each of these measures might realistically mean.

Up until this moment, the government had promised a three-month breather for mortgage repayments, and then – under pressure – caved and stated that tenants who fail to pay rent will be protected from eviction for the next three months. This does not mean a lot in practice, as the rent still needs to be paid, and agreements for doing so settled on. [Read More]

London: Living in the cracks. How housing has fallen into crisis

The causes of the housing crisis are, in a nutshell, the unchecked power of landlords, the 40-year attack on social housing and stagnant wages. The consequences are people sleeping in tents and doorways and under bridges, children in A&E with constant chest infections, poverty, debt, mental distress, and endless moving.

One of the major causes of the housing crisis is the undermining and running down of social housing. Since the introduction of Right to Buy in 1980, 1.5 million council houses have been sold, 40% of which are now rented out by private landlords. Alongside Right to Buy there has been a campaign of slurs by media and politicians against people in social housing, with other people encouraged to despise or resent them for the high rent other tenants pay.

As well as Right to Buy, many councils are knocking down large estates and redeveloping the land as high-density private housing, often purchased as an investment not a home. Tenants are usually rehoused locally but there is a loss of social housing in the area which increases the length of the waiting list. On many council bidding pages now the number of flats on offer is in the single figures, while 1.1 million households are on waiting lists. [Read More]