I’m An NHS Nurse & I’m Being Evicted By My Landlord

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UPDATE 21/08/20: The Lord Chancellor has extended the ban on evictions for a further four weeks, to 20 September.
Polly Neate, the Chief Executive of Shelter said of the move that, “it is right for the government not to lift the ban when it risks exposing people to eviction and the threat of homelessness with no means of defence."
However, she continued, that the government must now use this extra time 'wisely' to put the proper safeguards in place for renters. “People are still falling behind on their rent – 230,000 private tenants since March - leaving them vulnerable when the ban does end. And we all know even more economic storm clouds are gathering."
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The ban on evictions in England and Wales which the government introduced in March to help those financially hit by the coronavirus lockdown is due to be lifted on 23rd August.
Homeless charity Shelter estimates that 227,000 private renters have fallen into arrears since the pandemic began and fear they could lose their homes next week. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham warned on Wednesday that homelessness in the city could reach levels not seen since the 1930s. As many as 7,200 households across Greater Manchester alone were in rent arrears, while the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits has surged by 88% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, new figures released by the government on Thursday show that between January and March of this year, one in five (20%) households in England who were homeless or threatened with homelessness lost their home due to the end of a private tenancy, while a quarter (25%) lost their home due to rent arrears. During the same period, almost 5,000 households were threatened with homelessness as a result of being served a Section 21 eviction notice (this is a mechanism by which a landlord can evict their tenant without having to give a reason).

One in five (20%) households in England facing homelessness lost their home due to the end of a private tenancy, while a quarter (25%) lost their home due to rent arrears.

When the pandemic really took hold, Section 21 evictions – also known as 'no-fault evictions' – and Section 8 evictions, which allow landlords to remove tenants before the end of their tenancy agreement, were suspended in England and Wales until 25th June, which was then extended to 23rd August. Now, the Labour party is calling on the government to extend the order to prevent a "homelessness crisis". This comes as Britain's economy grapples with the deepest recession since modern records began.
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Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the ban on evictions should be extended for at least a year, while Labour and Lib Dem MPs urged the government to guarantee councils financial support to house rough sleepers for a year.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "We are now just days away from the eviction ban being lifted in England. The country is in the grip of a devastating recession, and thousands could face the horror of losing their homes in the coming months. Some may even face sleeping on the streets this winter.
"By the end of June, the pandemic had caused nearly 230,000 private renters to fall behind on their rent. And right now, the law cannot protect them. Once the ban ends, any renter who has built up eight weeks' worth of arrears can be automatically evicted through the courts, with judges powerless to intervene."
While the eviction ban has meant that courts have not been hearing eviction cases temporarily, it hasn't stopped landlords from serving eviction notices. The ban, which was supposed to help renters financially affected by the pandemic, hasn't protected 30-year-old Kelly*, a mother of two from Essex, from being told to vacate her property. The NHS nurse, who has been working on COVID-19 wards in London during the pandemic, says her mental health has declined as a result of being told to find alternative accommodation. Below she shares her story with Refinery29.
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"I moved into my rented property in Essex almost six years ago. I had a really great rapport with my private landlord, we even became friends and I would deal with him directly rather than the agent. At the beginning of this year, I asked him for permission to redecorate the property and in return he would let me stay here long-term. When he agreed, I was elated. I was able to decorate and spent money on re-flooring to make the house more homely for me and my two children.
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To my horror, three weeks ago, I received a shocking call from my landlord. He told me he wanted the property back and gave me two months notice to leave. A week later, my agent served me what's known as a form 6a which is the bit of paper you get given if you're being served with a Section 21 eviction notice. I was told to expect one of these in September. I started crying. How can this be when I'm up to date on all my payments? I asked my landlord for an explanation but he didn't give me one so I frantically rang the agent, who told me my landlord was going to give the property to his son instead.
My whole life has been turned upside down. My children, aged 6 and 10, are both settled here. How can I tell them we have to leave, and potentially go to a new school? On Monday I broke the news that we have to leave and they are distraught. It's difficult for them because they love this house and they are struggling with the uncertainty. I try to be normal for them but there's no guarantee. This situation has pushed me to the edge.

Landlords don't want to approve me for properties because they don't want to catch COVID-19.

Kelly*
In the last fortnight, I have desperately tried to apply for multiple properties but have heard landlords don't want to approve me for properties because they don't want to catch COVID-19 from me through my work as a nurse. It shocked me how people can judge. It was a massive stab in the back for me and I am still lost for words. How can people claim to appreciate NHS workers and then treat us like this? Where else do they expect me to go? I have two young children and they are discriminating against me because of my occupation.
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The council offered me a rent deposit scheme but I'm not entitled to it because I work full-time. My parents live really far away so staying with them isn't an option. While I do have friends who would be happy for us to stay with them, we can't during the coronavirus pandemic as I work as an NHS nurse on a COVID-19 ward. If the worst comes to the worst, I will just have to put everything in storage and stay in a hotel for as long as it takes to find somewhere to live.

I feel suicidal. If it wasn't for my two children, I don't know if I would still be here today.

Kelly*
I know there are people out there in worse situations than me and I hope that we can all get through this together. But I can't help but feel massively let down by the system, the government and my landlord. My mental health is shattered. I feel suicidal and if it wasn't for my two children, I don't know if I would still be here today. I've sought advice with the Citizens Advice Bureau and I have an appointment with them in September. I hope they will be able to help me to find somewhere to live.
With the eviction ban being lifted next week, it's going to change a lot of people's lives. It's going to be catastrophic. Landlords who are in financial difficulty are going to take advantage of the free stamp duty and will sell their properties, leaving so many families out in the lurch. Landlords will be given the power to kick people out without thinking about their personal circumstances. We'll not only be in the middle of a public health crisis, but a homelessness pandemic too."
*Name has been changed to protect identity

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