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Campaigners stage East Ham protest as coronavirus evictions ban looms

PUBLISHED: 12:30 08 August 2020

Campaigners from London Renters Union staged a protest in High Street North, East Ham, on Saturday, August 1. Picture: Michael Deas

Campaigners from London Renters Union staged a protest in High Street North, East Ham, on Saturday, August 1. Picture: Michael Deas

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A campaign group has staged a protest to highlight problems faced by people who rent as a ban on evictions approaches.

People who live in rented accommodation were invited to share their experience on mic during the action in East Ham. Picture: Michael DeasPeople who live in rented accommodation were invited to share their experience on mic during the action in East Ham. Picture: Michael Deas

London Renters Union members gathered in High Street North, East Ham on Saturday, August 1 to make sure tenants know their rights when it comes to attempts to remove them from their homes.

The union fears the country faces a wave of evictions when a ban on landlords evicting tenants introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end on August 25.

Its members warn that without protecting renters, the capital could see a spike in homelessness and potentially of Covid-19 infection.

LRU states that during lockdown many renters felt they had no choice but to break social distancing guidelines and go to work so they can continue to pay rent, putting themselves and others at risk of infection.

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The organisation reports that 35,000 people have downloaded its resources and thousands have won rent reductions from landlords since lockdown began.

Amina Gachinga, an organiser from the Newham and Leytonstone LRU branch, called for all rent debt to be cancelled, the eviction ban to be made permanent and the introduction of rent controls.

LRU member Cynthia, who would only provide her first name, said: “Our landlord refusing to give us a rent holiday has put our asthmatic children at risk, forcing my husband to keep going out to work and risk bringing Covid into the house.

“We are in rent debt because universal credit has been unable to cover our rent whilst he’s been furloughed. We are worried the landlord will issue an eviction notice.”

Fellow member Ghazal, who only gave her first name, said: “My husband and I have paid thousands into the tax system, but now we have no recourse to public funds and have lost nearly 80 per cent of our income during the lockdown because of which we have accrued rent arrears.

“After August 24, my landlord is free to evict us out of our home and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Across the country six in 10 renters have lost income during the Coronavirus pandemic, according to LRU. Debt advice service StepChange estimates 590,000 people in private homes in the UK are behind on rent, at an average of £1,076.


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