Bristol renters must be protected during COVID-19 crisis

Liberal Democrats have called on the government to go further in protecting the thousands of Bristol residents in private and social rented accommodation during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst a three-month mortgage holiday has been welcomed, the Government has been questioned about why similar protections have not been extended to those in the rented sector, as well as on issues such as utilities bills and council tax payments.

Bristol has one of the UK's largest rental markets with 58,000 households (29%) in private rented accommodation and 36,000 households (18%) in social rented housing.

Last night (Wednesday), the Government announced a new law which would block evictions from rented housing over the next three months.

Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Bristol West James Cox said:

"Thousands of renters in Bristol will undoubtedly be relived to hear that legal protections will be put in place to block evictions until June, but we are still waiting for clarity about what happens to those people who fall into arrears due to losing work or losing business due to the coronavirus after this period.

"The Government needs to make it clear that nobody in Bristol or across the country will be evicted from their home because of the impact of coronavirus and also make it clear that they will extend these measures for as long as it takes for people to get back on their feet and back to normality. The government has given a holiday for those with mortgages, it is vital that the same protections are afforded to those in the rented sector.

"It is also quite likely that people's circumstances might change abruptly, and with that change comes concerns over utilities costs for people who are living month to month and could be unable to heat or light their home or have access to drinking water. The Government needs to take urgent action to prevent utilities companies being able to cut off their customers over the coming weeks and months. This is what Liberal Democrats will be suggesting to the Government and working constructively to achieve."

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