Access to adequate housing is part of the front-line defence against the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, the UK Government has asked people to “stay at home”. However, a home does not always provide protection against contracting and spreading the virus and is not always a safe place.
The UK Government must comply with its international human rights commitments pertaining to the right to housing. Just Fair makes the following recommendations, focusing on protection from evictions and homelessness, supporting the calls of many other organisations in the housing sector.
The right to housing should be a key element of the UK Government’s recovery measures and response to the pandemic. This requires that sufficient resources are allocated towards realising the right to adequate housing for everyone.
Just Fair recommends that the UK Government:
- Halt all evictions proceedings, including against non-national residents, and end the sweeping of encampments or tents of homeless people.
- Accompany a stay on possession proceedings with an extension to the moratorium on evictions beyond 11 January 2021.
- End all evictions of anyone, anywhere for any reason until the end of the pandemic and for a reasonable period of time thereafter, with the only exceptions to this blanket policy including where someone must be removed from their home because they are causing harm to others or in situation of a serious threat to the life of residents.
- Prohibit evictions for non-payment of rent, rental arrears, mortgage payment default, and utility payment arrears during the pandemic and for a reasonable period thereafter.
- Provide sufficient resources to implement the ban of evictions effectively, including resources to monitor and prevent private actors from carrying out extrajudicial evictions.
- Ensure access to justice for those individuals, families or communities that have experienced an eviction and are seeking access to effective remedies.
- Put measures in place to ensure security of tenure, including ending s21 evictions.
- House people experiencing homelessness in adequate accommodation, including making vacant housing and buildings accessible to them.
- Not put homeless people back on the street.
- Ensure that everyone is provided with safe accommodation and adequate living conditions regardless of their immigration status, in line with international human rights law.
- Ensure recovery measures are not discriminatory, including by putting in place to guarantee that groups of people who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, or subject to systemic discrimination, benefit from the response and recovery measures.
- Address effectively discrimination in relation to housing, by collecting and sharing publicly disaggregated data.
- Consider rent caps and subsidies for tenants and small landlords.
Just Fair is a charity monitoring and advocating for economic and social rights in the UK. We hold the UK Government to account on its law, policy and practice to ensure compliance with human rights standards.
For more information, contact Just Fair’s Campaigns and Advocacy Lead, Misha Nayak-Oliver.