Oxford, 31st July 2020
Dear Councillor Susan Brown and the Oxford City Council,
We last wrote to you in March just as we were starting to feel the huge effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic, urging you to take urgent action to safeguard the third of Oxford’s population who rent their homes, including many of those most vulnerable to the impacts of the Coronavirus.
Oxford has been named the worst place to rent in the UK, and rents in Oxford are amongst the highest in the UK making this a particularly urgent problem in our city. As you know, a third of people living in Oxford rent. Renting is the most expensive and insecure type of tenure whilst renters have a lower median household income than owner occupiers. Eviction from the private rental market (often via a ‘no fault’ Section 21 eviction) is the single biggest cause of homelessness in Oxford, responsible for over half of cases where a person has been made homeless. From the 23rd August, the Covid-19 eviction ban lifts and anyone who has built up arrears during the pandemic can legally be evicted. Some people have built up arrears because they’ve lost a job or been furloughed as a result of the pandemic, and their reduced income means they can no longer afford their rent.
We are writing to you now, asking you what measures have you taken to protect this huge proportion of residents in your city. Please can you tell us what you’ve done over the past four months in order to protect renters from losing their homes when the eviction ban ends on 23rd August?
As we approach the end of the eviction ban in August, we are expecting a surge in evictions and as a result a huge homelessness crisis, as the furlough scheme comes to a close shortly after, with thousands expected to lose their jobs. What steps are you going to take to ensure this crisis doesn’t continue to get worse?
Now we would like to hear from you,
- What protections are you going to put in place to stop the imminent eviction crisis?
- What protections are you going to put in place for those who have fallen into rent arrears as a direct result of coronavirus from losing their home?
- Can you promise no council tenant will lose their home due to falling into rent arrears as a result of Covid-19?
Members and supporters of the Oxford Tenants Union
Renters of Oxford we want to hear from you. Tell us how Coronavirus is affecting your housing. We want to know what challenges you’re facing so that together we can be stronger. Send us a message, make a video or post on our facebook page.