In the wake of a third wave of Covid infections, we are now set to see a tidal wave of evictions. Thousands of Scottish families face homelessness, and record numbers are already in temporary accommodation.
Despite the emergency ban on evictions – which ended in June – the Sunday Mail discovered that landlords in Scotland had served almost 7000 legal notices between June 2020 and March this year. That means several hundred were being served every month, mostly for rent arrears.
Even when physical evictions are prevented from taking place, the suffering and stress that comes from being served notice causes harm to our families and communities.
In the face of an ongoing public health emergency, and long-term economic crisis, this is nothing short of a disaster. We have borne the brunt of the Covid pandemic – many of us have lost loved ones, many have lost work – and now, through no fault of our own, many of us will lose our homes as well.
Even without the upheaval of Covid, insecurity has become a simple fact of life for most renters. Due to a lack of public housing, too many tenants are trapped in the private rented sector, where rents are rising through the roof (in Scotland, a third of all tenants in private housing live in poverty after paying their rent) and leases are highly insecure.
Too many landlords – both private landlords and the council – have no interest in making necessary improvements. Flats, houses, entire tower blocks have been left to rot with damp, leaks, and neglect.
Demands for change fall on deaf ears. Government after government in Scotland have repeatedly sided with the landlords – and that should come as no surprise.
While landlords are only 5% of the UK population (only one in twenty of us are letting property), that figure rises to 17% among Westminster MPs, and to a shocking 24% in Holyrood. According to Living Rent, almost a quarter of our MSPs – including several senior figures in the SNP – are landlords.
When the government will not listen to our voices, we must take initiative ourselves. There are nearly a million of us, and only a handful of them. Living Rent – a tenants’ union – are active on the ground fighting together to win lower rents and more secure tenancies. Likewise, Shelter Scotland provide advice for people struggling with housing or homelessness.
But the responsibility for fighting homelessness and struggling for tenants’ rights should not fall on the unions and charities alone. We need a strong political voice to shake our MSPs out of their comfortable slumber – the Labour Party are incapable of doing this, and the SNP are unwilling to do it.
The Workers Party support the call for more – and better – social housing. Scotland needs a reversal of privatisation in the rental market, and improved standards of both private and social housing.
We need rent controls that are actually able to tackle the skyrocketing rent in the private sector across Scotland – the toothless legislation that the government has implemented so far has (of course) been worse than useless.
Get involved with the Workers Party – help us get this message across. Fight the new wave of Covid evictions!