Protesters carry out mock trial of landlord ‘Robin Tenants’ in protest over evictions ban outside Stratford Magistrates’ Court
PUBLISHED: 17:00 28 August 2020
A landlord was put on trial by tenants over threats to carry out an illegal eviction during a protest outside a court.
Members of campaign group London Renters Union (LRU) enacted the mock trial of imaginary “defendant” Robin Tenants outside Stratford Magistrates’ Court in an action highlighting what protesters describe as a lack of protection for renters.
It followed the government’s four week-long extension of a ban on landlords evicting tenants brought in to protect renters from becoming homeless during the coronavirus pandemic.
Amina Gachinga, organiser of the Newham and Leytonstone LRU branch, said: “The extension of the eviction ban and the six month extension on eviction notices is a huge win for London Renters Union and others who have been campaigning tirelessly to get the government to take action.
“The government’s U-turn demonstrates the importance of people power.
“Many renters remain in rent debt and are facing threats of legal and illegal eviction as a result of the government’s inability to provide genuine support for renters. It’s time to cancel rent debt.”
She vowed LRU would continue to push the government to make the ban permanent.
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The six month-long notice period lasts until at least March, 31, 2021.
The government argues it has taken unprecedented action to support renters, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses pay salaries, leading it to state that no tenants were evicted at the height of the pandemic.
Only the most serious eviction cases, including those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse, are to be prioritised, according to the government.
Stratford’s protest was timed to coincide with the day cases were allowed to resume in courts on August 24.
The protesters’ aim was to raise the alarm that after the four weeks, landlords will be able to evict tenants again in spite of the virus continuing.
Renters who experienced illegal evictions spoke during the action.
The LRU’s members fear that without renters being protected beyond September 20, when the ban is now due to end, landlords will evict tenants, leading to an increase in homelessness and a possible spike in Covid-19 infection rates.
An estimated one in 24 people (14,535) in the borough is affected by homelessness, according to a report by the charity Shelter published in December.
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