Hackney Council has called on private landlords to support renters affected by coronavirus and urged the Government to ban using non payment of rent as a result of the pandemic as basis for eviction.
Hackney Councillor Sem Moema, Mayoral Adviser for Private Renting and Housing Affordability has written a letter to the Minister for Housing, Christopher Pincher MP encouraging the Government to do everything they can to support not only renters in Hackney, but also across the UK.
She wrote in the letter: “It is clear already that many renters’ incomes will be significantly affected, whether because of sickness, self isolation or the wider economic impact caused by the outbreak. Those who are among the most likely to have their employment impacted are also more likely to be renters. For example, freelancers, workers in the gig economy, those employed in the relatively low paid hospitality industry, or in jobs such as cleaning, security and the care sector”.
Moema said that Hackney Council is already taking steps to protect those affected by supporting tenants impacted by coronavirus across more than 20,000 homes in the borough. They will be working closely with them to ensure they receive all the financial help they are entitled to.
However, she also said that the council’s ability to support residents living in privately rented homes is limited. She said that those renters should not be placed in a position where they may face eviction because of a reduced wage after following public health advice and has called on the Government to step in.
As well as providing support for renters, Hackney Council said in their newsletter update that they will be responding to the Government’s support for businesses during the crisis by trying to automatically identify those in the borough that are eligible for enhanced relief in the form of a financial grant, with the aim to reissue business rates as soon as possible.
They also said that they have established a group of senior officers and councillors to help coordinate local voluntary and community groups to support vulnerable people.
The council aim to create a single point of contact for anyone who wants to offer their help as well as support for the Food For Justice Alliance, a group created in 2018 who find practical ways of tackling food poverty in Hackney.
A web page will be set up by the council in the coming days with information on how residents can get involved in this scheme.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said in a statement on Tuesday 17 that the council’s focus has been on health protection and prioritising the delivery of vital frontline services such as adult and children’s social care, waste collections and support for homeless families.
“Responding to this crisis will require a borough wide effort and the can-do spirit of solidarity, innovation and ingenuity that Hackney is renowned for. It’s also important that this is coordinated and that everyone stepping forward to help respects each other and follows public health advice – avoiding inadvertently putting people at risk” he said.
Hackney Council also announced in their newsletter that most council services will continue to run as normal, although the Archives will be closed from today amid staff redeployment to local libraries which continue to open, with some closing for short periods due to staff shortages.
Queensbridge Neighbourhood Office has also been impacted by staff shortages and has been closed.
Some public toilets in the borough have been closed as a result of continual theft of toilet rolls and hand wash. The council has asked residents to not steal from the toilets, or more will have to be shut.