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Government 'must ensure people are not evicted' in Northern Ireland after coronavirus lockdown

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Warning: Justin Cartwright

Warning: Justin Cartwright

Warning: Justin Cartwright

A housing charity has called on Northern Ireland government and landlords to act to prevent a spike in evictions after lockdown.

The Chartered Institute of Housing said temporary measures to help tenants keep their homes, along with the furlough scheme, had brought temporary respite.

CIH said that employed renters were more likely than homeowners to work in jobs which faced the greatest economic and health risks in the crisis.

In addition, claims for unemployment benefits had almost doubled during April, while the economy has been tipped to shrink by 7.5% - all of which will make it harder for tenants to pay rent.

Justin Cartwright, CIH director in NI, said: "For the 260,000 households who are tenants of private or social landlords in NI, a key part of the hardship and suffering during the crisis has been the struggle to pay their rent and worrying if they will be able to keep their home.

"If our society and the economy are to recover from the crisis, it is vital that these fears are allayed quickly and thoroughly."

The CIH has proposed measures including a temporary ban on evictions arising solely from Covid-19-related arrears.

It also suggests one-off payments to stabilise Housing Executive and housing association finances where hit by Covid-related arrears.

CIH chief executive Gavin Smart said:"Our proposals are practical and proportionate to the threat facing millions of people.

"We are looking forward to working with the governments across the UK to make them part of our national post-Covid recovery plan."

Belfast Telegraph