Private property is theft!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
2 June 2021

One "restriction" which the government has had no hesitation about lifting, is the ban on landlords from evicting tenants with rent arrears. It ended on 31 May.

    So now possession orders will come into force - indeed they have already: 400,000 tenants have been served with eviction orders or told to expect them, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. As one renter told the BBC, my landlord has "the power to just flick their finger and get me out".

    Tenants can be forcibly evicted. And even if longer notice periods can be given, if one owes more than 4 months rent, the notice period is only 1 month! The landlords’ association estimates that by now, some 850,000 people are in rent arrears, with half of these already faced with eviction. Many do not even qualify for any benefits.

    In fact the number of single homeless has more than tripled during the pandemic. Of course, the number of people sleeping rough fell after the "everyone in" scheme, which provided rough sleepers with temporary accommodation in hotels. But now “everyone in” is replaced with a "move-on" scheme - with the aim of emptying the last hotel by the end of July.

    So the question is, where will all these old and new homeless go? Rough sleeping can only get worse. And if it’s bad now, when furlough and benefit top-ups end in the autumn it will be a disaster.

    As for rents, they keep going up. Demand outstrips supply (social housing hasn't been built on any scale since the 1970s), and in the absence of rent controls, landlords have a free hand.

    In Scotland and Wales - but not England - an interest free, guaranteed tenant hardship loan has been offered to help with rent arrears. This is what English charities now suggest.

    They point to Sunak's Stamp Duty tax break, which benefited houseowners by £5bn. They say a government scheme to cover the rent due, would cost much less. Yes, it might. But it would amount to yet another handout to private landlords; and behind them the banks and mortgage lenders, who are the real “owners” of most of the homes in the country. No. They should all be taken into public hands!