The Covid-19 pandemic brought enormous changes to every aspect of our lives and made us re-evaluate the meaning of home. During the pandemic our front door was the last line of defence against Covid and for many, home was the boundary of our day-to-day experience. For many people living in the rental sector the increased importance of home brought its own fears. The precarious tenure and weak tenant protections that are a constant feature of the rental experience were magnified by the public health emergency. The number of cases that Threshold’s advisors dealt with more than trebled in the three-week period between 9th March and 30th March 2020.
The response of government was to introduce a moratorium on rent increases and evictions. This was a hugely important step to provide much needed breathing space for tenants. As the pandemic progressed the pandemic related measures altered. Threshold worked diligently to ensure that the protections afforded to tenants were at the forefront of the government’s thinking and that the large number of people who lost their livelihood were not forgotten.
The accumulation of rent arrears by people who were unable to pay their rent due to the pandemic was an issue that Threshold campaigned actively on. We were pleased to see this issue addressed with a new procedure for dealing with rent arrears in the Residential Tenancies Act, but this fell short of a commitment to a dedicated rent arrears fund.
The moratorium demonstrated that the numbers of people entering homelessness can be reduced through government policy. Threshold will continue to advocate for the rules around no fault evictions to be tightened and reviewed.