Housing News Digest

RobertThe Tenants' Union Housing News Digest compiles our pick of items from all the latest tenancy and housing media. It is sent every Monday and Thursday at 10am. 

Below is the Digest archive from November 2020 onwards. From time to time you will find additional items in the archive that did not make it into the twice weekly Digest email. Earlier archives are here, where you can also find additional digests by other organisations. 

Our e-magazine, Tenant News is sent once every two months.

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See notes about the Digest and a list of other contributors here. Many thanks to those contributors for sharing links with us.

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Renting during the COVID-19 pandemic in Great Britain: the experiences of private tenants

Adriana Mihaela Soaita
(No paywall)

From the United Kingdom ... Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, a set of far reaching emergency measures have been implemented ... Private tenants’ difficulties have been recognized in the COVID-19 policy package, for instance, by temporarily delaying eviction and increasing social assistance. However, even in ‘ordinary’ times, the challenges faced by private tenants are broader and deeper than acknowledged by these emergency measures. ... While private tenants’ plight has been long in the making in the UK and may not be fully addressed in a short timeframe, the COVID-19 crisis invites us to reevaluate the role of the PRS in the housing system and the extent to and the means by which it (can) deliver good, secure and affordable homes. [You may wish to skip to 'Chapter 6. Conclusions'.] (UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence)


# Research alert International, Eviction, Rent, Coronavirus COVID-19.

The Promises and Failures of the “Cancel Rent” Movement

Cea Weaver
(No paywall)

Eighteen months ago, COVID-19 forced millions of people to reckon with a long-standing crisis of housing insecurity in the United States. Before the pandemic, millions of people could not afford their housing costs: 75% of low income families were paying more than half their income on rent, and just 1 in 4 people who needed public rent relief received it. By the fall of 2020, as many as 43% of the nation’s renters were at risk of eviction. It was in this context that the demand to “Cancel Rent” rippled across the country. And in New York, the housing movement was well prepared. Less than a year earlier, in June 2019, we had defeated the most powerful lobby in New York State, winning sweeping tenant protections — the strongest in the country — and expanding rent regulations for the first time in decades. In 2020, facing a deadly pandemic and an attendant economic crisis, the campaign to Cancel Rent animated hundreds of protests, rallies, and the largest coordinated rent strike in decades. But despite this historic mobilization and the horrifying proportions of the crisis, New York State did not “cancel rent.” Instead, the State passed the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) — a temporary program to distribute $2.7 billion in federal money to landlords for COVID-19 back-rent. So far, the program has distributed a paltry number of checks, and forces tenants and landlords to spend about two hours to apply — if they’re not blocked by myriad technical glitches. (New York Focus)


# Hot topic International, Eviction, Rent, Campaigns and law reform, Federal Government, Housing affordability, Housing market.

Tenant News

Tenants' Union of NSW (No paywall)

Check out the latest stories from Tenant News ... Lockdown safety net: our analysis; Renters' Guide to COVID – updated; Access during lockdown; Meanwhile, the housing crisis continues; Young renters: We hear you!; A day in the life of a Tenant Advocate; and lots more news


# Must read NSW, Rent, Campaigns and law reform.

Eviction crisis looms after Biden and Congress fail to extend Covid ban

The Guardian (No paywall)

Tenants saddled with months of back rent were facing the end of the federal eviction moratorium on Saturday, a move that could lead to millions being forced from their homes as the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant spreads. The Biden administration said on Thursday it would allow the nationwide ban to expire, saying it wanted to extend it but its hands were tied after the supreme court signaled in June that it wouldn’t be extended beyond the end of July without congressional action. House lawmakers on Friday failed to pass a bill to extend the moratorium even a few months. Some Democrats had wanted it extended until the end of the year.


# Hot topic International, Eviction, Rent, Coronavirus COVID-19, Federal Government.

Update on COVID-19 Public Health Orders

(No paywall)

Check out 'Inspections and entry to rental properties; and more here (The Letterbox)


# Hot topic NSW, Privacy-and-access, Rent, Repairs, Campaigns and law reform, Coronavirus COVID-19, State Government.

COVID-19: Lockdown support for Greater Sydney tenants

(No paywall)

COVID-19 restrictions are in force for Greater Sydney and have been extended for at least another four weeks until Saturday, 28 August. Here’s what you need to know about the lockdown and where to get tenancy support.


# Must read NSW, Eviction, Privacy-and-access, Rent, Coronavirus COVID-19, State Government.

COVID has deepened the 'housing crisis' in Indigenous communities, and residents are speaking out

Isabella Higgins
ABC (No paywall)

Lockdowns are tough no matter where you live, but staying at home when there's four generations under one roof can be especially difficult. For some Indigenous communities around the country, this has been the common story of the pandemic, with residents speaking out about the enormous challenges they've faced. ... Indigenous leaders say the pandemic has deepened a long-running "housing crisis" in communities, and have called for urgent investment. ... It's estimated about one in five Indigenous Australians are living in a crowded home, and more than 34 per cent are in remote areas, according to the latest census data. ... The housing shortage was only one part of the problem, with many of the current stock in Indigenous communities requiring serious maintenance and repairs, Ms Oscar said. About 29 per cent of Indigenous people were living in a dwelling with a major structural problem, according to a 2019 analysis by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.


# Australia, Aboriginal-renters, Public-and-community-housing, Repairs, Coronavirus COVID-19, Housing market.

Rent controls are becoming a highly divise issue in Europe

(No paywall)

Rent controls are becoming increasingly popular in many European nations, but experts note that they rarely solve housing crises on their own and can even scare investors away. Rent controls are government policies, whether on local or a national level, that aim to cap house price increases. They are intended to keep housing affordable, at least for the most vulnerable parts of a population. However, the policy has its critics. In Sweden, for example, rent controls effectively toppled the government there. In Germany, the matter was subject to a year-long legal battle. Meanwhile, lawmakers in the Netherlands, the U.K. and Ireland have all had similar discussions about their property markets. (International Union of Tenants News)


# Hot topic International, Rent, Housing market.