One of the UK’s largest tenants’ unions, which is behind the petition, has written to Boris Johnson calling for all rent payments to cease in order to protect tenants during the crisis.

Unsympathetic landlords are putting pressure on renters to take unnecessary risks by going to work during the crisis, according to campaign group the London Renters Union.

It’s calling on the government to suspend all rent payments – and to protect people from having to pay big arrears when the pandemic has eased.

The group has gathered more than 102,000 signatures on an online petition urging Boris Johnson to protect renters and has written to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick calling on him to suspend all rent payments, make the evictions ban permanent, introduce rent controls, and give councils the power to repossess empty homes.

The letter from organiser Amina Gichinga warns that the UK faces a rent debt and evictions crisis.

Leave the house

She says: “Because of the pressure to continue to pay rent, many thousands of people are forced to leave the house to work. Despite the Government giving mortgage holidays to landlords and urging ‘compassion’ many agents and landlords are still telling renters that rent is due in full and that we will be evicted if we don’t comply.”

The union believes renters should be freed from having to make any rent payments during the Coronavirus pandemic and that they should be protected from falling into debt.

She adds: “Legislation should be introduced that suspends rent payments for the duration of the emergency and waives rent debt…and Section 8 eviction notices should be suspended for the next 12 months.

“Such measures would significantly increase the ability of renters to follow government health advice to stay at home and would help prevent a rent debt and evictions crisis.”

It has set up the hashtag #suspendrent on Twitter to gather support.

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