Council tenants in Harrogate won't be evicted if they can't pay rent due to coronavirus
Tenants in Harrogate Council-owned properties will not face eviction over debts built up due the coronavirus crisis, the authority has announced.
The council's confirmation will be welcomed by renters who face being temporarily out of work after the government ordered all non-essential shops and businesses to close as part of its strict new measures.
The local authority has around 3,800 rental properties in the district - and is asking any tenants who are struggling to make ends meet to get in touch straight away.
A council spokesman said: “We will not be evicting anyone who is in arrears because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But it is essential that any tenant who is struggling to pay contacts us as a matter of urgency.”
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Nationally, the government is promising emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from all social or rented accommodation for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Under the new laws being pushed through Parliament, landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least three months.
Ministers have also confirmed the already-announced three-month mortgage holiday will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing difficulties.
And the government has also announced a Hardship Fund to provide financial support - including council tax relief - to the vulnerable people and households hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis.
Local Government Secretary MP Robert Jenrick said: "Providing the necessary financial support to people and families is critical at this difficult time when many people will be concerned about changes to their income.
"That’s why we’re giving local councils an additional £500 million, to ensure help is available for the most vulnerable people in our society who are struggling to pay their council tax bills."
Separately, Harrogate Council has also suspended its routine maintenance calls and said its property services team will only be responding to emergencies until further notice.
It said online: "Emergency calls are classed as issues which have caused, or could cause, damage to a property or would impact the health or well-being of the occupant.
"If we are due to visit your property to carry out work, please don't be offended if we ask you to confirm that you're not at risk from coronavirus or if there is a vulnerable person in your household."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter