A last-minute bid has been launched in the House of Lords to try and stop an estimated 55,000 struggling private renters from being evicted.
Lib Dem peer Olly Grender will today use a motion to try and block the removals from going ahead.
At the moment, anyone served with an eviction notice since the end of August has been given a six-month notice period as part of a bid to stop a wave of homelessness caused by job losses in the wake of coronavirus.
But those who were served a notice from March to August has not been given that protection – leaving an estimated 55,000 people at risk of being turfed out of their homes.
Housing campaigners fear that it will mean a rise in homelessness and more pressure on cash strapped councils just as the UK braces for a second wave.
According to a briefing by housing group Generation Rent, 200 judges have been given training to deal with housing cases as the courts prepare to deal with the backlog.
Baroness Grenner’s so-called ‘Prayer to Annul’ could force a vote on the government’s pandemic regulations – with Lords from across the house understood to be unhappy about the potential evictions.
The rarely-used device could strike the regulations down if forced to a vote.
Labour’s justice spokesperson Lord Ponsonby of Shulbredeh as also put down a ‘Regret Motion’ against the changes.
As the pandemic hit, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that no one who had lost income due to the pandemic would lose their home.
Baroness Grender told the Mirror: “This Government made a promise that no renter who has lost income due to COVID would lose their home, yet from Monday tens of thousands are facing that very real threat.
“Rather than scrapping no-fault evictions as promised in the election, Tory Ministers are enabling evictions of an estimated 55,000 private renters. People who have been furloughed, made redundant, have children going to a local school are all under threat.
“If this goes ahead countless families will find themselves without a home, on this Government’s watch, in the midst of a pandemic. The loss of a private tenancy is the main factor behind someone becoming homeless, which is why the Liberal Democrats are determined to put a stop this legislation.”
A spokesperson for the government said: “We’ve taken unprecedented action to support renters by banning evictions for six months, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries.
“To help keep people in their homes over the winter months, we’ve changed the law to increase notice periods to six months and introduced a ‘winter truce’ on the enforcement of evictions for the first time.
“In addition, we have put in place a welfare safety net of nearly £9.3bn and increased Local Housing Allowance rates to cover the lowest 30% of market rents.”