An NHS hospital worker said they have been threatened with eviction by a landlord over fears he will infect other tenants with coronavirus, a charity has said.
The worker is one of tens of thousands of renters who could lose their homes during the Covid-19 outbreak if the government does not move quickly to protect them, Shelter warned.
It estimates more than 50,000 households could face eviction through the courts over the next six months, based on 2019 quarterly figures, but this number could increase.
The charity said an NHS hospital worker anonymously contacted its web chat service on March 11.
The worker told the housing adviser their landlord was scared of contracting the virus from tenants and said ‘they’ve all got to go’ unless a cure is found in weeks.
Shelter said it is receiving daily calls from renters who have been told they will need to leave because of the outbreak.
It wants the government to amend legislation to halt all possession orders and bailiff warrants.
Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: ‘Tens of thousands of renters face being turfed out of their home in the next six months if the government fails to act quickly. We need a wholesale and complete halt to all evictions while the coronavirus crisis unfolds.
‘Right now, there are people all over the country who don’t know how they’ll pay their rent this month, let alone the next three. People are panicked about how they will reduce contact or self-isolate if they lose their home.
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‘We’re already hearing daily from terrified renters being threatened with eviction by irresponsible landlords, including vital NHS workers. This cannot be allowed to happen.
‘The government has stepped in to support mortgagees and it must now act decisively to help renters survive the current storm. It must legislate immediately to halt all eviction proceedings during this period of social disruption.
‘This is an absolutely necessary emergency public health measure to keep people safe and in their homes.’
There are more than 20 million renters in England, and nearly three-quarters are thought to have no savings, while 1.5 million households are headed by someone over 65, Shelter said.
Other concerned renters who contacted Shelter included a tenant who said they had been evicted without notice while on holiday in Italy.
They said the landlord was worried they would catch the virus.
Another renter’s landlord has given them and another four tenants notice to end the tenancy due to Covid-19, Shelter said.
• Additional reporting by PA.