COVID-19 housing update

Advice for home owners/private landlords

A mortgage payment holiday scheme has been announced and will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties. The government has extended the mortgage payment holiday scheme by three months until the end of October.

To arrange a mortgage payment holiday please make contact with your bank or building society directly.

Advice for private renters

The government has announced an increase to Housing Benefit and Universal Credit to ensure that Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of rents. For more information and how to contact the DWP please visit the Housing and Universal Credit page on the GOV.UK website

The government announced a ban on evictions which has now been extended until 20 September. You can view the full government guidance on this on the GOV.UK website. After this date, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan taking into account tenants' individual circumstances. Please contact your landlord directly to make the necessary arrangements.

Eviction and being asked to leave

Most tenants can't be evicted at the moment.

  • Evictions are paused during the coronavirus outbreak.

  • From 20 September 2020 the courts start to deal with evictions again.

Before this date:

  • bailiffs won't evict you

  • landlords can't get an eviction order

How long will an eviction take?

  • The eviction process takes time.
  • Your landlord must give you a 3 month notice and then apply to court.
  • The courts and bailiffs have a backlog of cases and will write to you about your case.
  • You may be able to ask the court to stop the eviction, especially if you rent from the council or a housing association.
  • The court can't usually stop an eviction if you rent privately and your landlord follows the correct legal process. The court can stop an eviction if your landlord gives you an invalid notice.

What if the bailiffs were due before the coronavirus outbreak?

  • You may be closer to an eviction date being set if your landlord got a possession order or the bailiffs were due before the outbreak.
  • Court bailiffs start operating again from 20 September 2020.
  • They must send you a notice 2 weeks before you're due to be evicted.
  • You may be able to ask the court to stop the eviction.

What if my landlord pressures me to leave?

  • You can and should stay in your home, especially if you have nowhere else to stay.
  • It's illegal for your landlord to:
    • harass you
    • lock you out of your home, even temporarily
    • make you leave without notice or a court order

What if my landlord gives me notice to leave?

  • You're entitled to at least a 3 month notice period if you're a
    • council or housing association tenant
    • private renter who gets a section 21 or section 8 notice
  • You don't have to leave when the notice ends. Your tenancy continues if you stay in your home.
  • Your landlord must apply to court if they still want you to leave. 
  • If you're a lodger who lives with your landlord, the rules are different.

What are the rules for lodgers?

  • If you live with your landlord, you're entitled to either:
    • stay until the end of your agreement
    • reasonable notice before you have to leave
  • Your landlord won't need to get a court order once your agreement or notice ends.

Rent, benefits and money problems

What should I do if I can’t afford my rent?

Look at financial help available like benefits and speak to your landlord. Your landlord could be sympathetic and might accept late rent or agree to a rent reduction.

Claiming universal credit or other benefits

Universal credit may not be your best or only option. You should check whether claiming other benefits may put you in a better financial position.

Use our universal credit guide to find out:

  • if you should claim universal credit or something else
  • how to start a universal credit claim
  • how much you might get
  • how to get an advance
  • where to find information on statutory sick pay and furloughing

You have to wait at least 5 weeks for your first universal credit payment, but you can usually get an advance.

Can tenants stop paying rent because of the outbreak?

You can only pause your rent payments if your landlord agrees. There is no payment break or holiday for renters.

Some landlords can apply for a break in mortgage payments if their tenants are struggling to pay rent due to coronavirus, but this won’t always be possible.

Can I leave my tenancy early because of coronavirus?

  • You can only end a fixed term tenancy early if either:
    • your contract has a break clause
    • you negotiate an early end to the agreement with your landlord
  • If you want to leave as soon as possible you'll probably have to negotiate.
  • Your landlord may be sympathetic to your request to leave if they understand your reasons. For example, if you need to move urgently because you or a family member are sick or need support

Repairs and access to your home

What if my home needs repairs?

  • Landlords have the same responsibilities for repairs during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • They might not be able to get the problem fixed during the usual timescales but shouldn't delay repairs unreasonably.
  • Anyone who comes to carry out repairs should follow government guidance on social distancing.

What if a gas safety inspection is due?

  • Annual gas safety checks are still an important legal requirement. 
  • Your landlord should rearrange any gas safety checks that are due if they cannot go ahead safely because someone in your home is at high risk or self isolating.

What if I don't want anyone to come to my home?

  • You normally have to allow your landlord access to carry out repairs.
  • If someone in your home is self isolating, government guidance says repairs should only be carried out if there's a serious problem that puts you at risk.
  • You can ask your landlord to postpone any non urgent repairs if you have concerns. For example, if you’ve been shielding.
  • If you live in an area where a local lockdown means you are still advised to shield, no one should visit your home unless a serious problem puts you at risk.

What if other people in shared housing aren't following social distancing?

  • People from 2 households can now meet inside as long as they observe social distancing. Anyone in your support bubble counts as part of your household.
  • If you’re concerned other people in your shared home aren’t observing social distancing, you could refer them to the government’s guidance.
  • You could also ask your landlord to speak to them if they won’t change their behaviour.
  • If you live somewhere where there's a local lockdown, check with your council what social distancing guidelines you need to follow.

Mortgage payment problems

Repossessions are still on hold

  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said that mortgage lenders must not start or continue court action for repossession until at least 31 October 2020.
  • Although the courts will start to deal with evictions again from 24 August, lenders aren't allowed to go to court for a repossession order or ask bailiffs to evict you.
  • If your lender applied to court before the coronavirus outbreak your case should still be on hold.
  • Contact your lender if you've received a letter from the court with a date for a hearing. They should apply to have it adjourned until after October.

I'm worried about paying my mortgage. What can I do?

  • Check if you have insurance that will cover your mortgage payments. For example, mortgage payment protection insurance or through your current account.
  • You can ask your lender for a 3 month payment holiday if you're struggling to pay because of coronavirus. You can ask for this at any time until at least 31 October.
  • The missed payments will be added to the cost of your mortgage. This normally means your monthly payments will increase.
  • Ask your lender about other options. For example, switching to a lower interest rate.

I've come to the end of a payment holiday. What happens now?

  • If you can afford to pay your mortgage you'll be asked to do so.
  • Speak to your lender if you still can't afford to make full payments. They should offer you further support. This could include another 3 month payment holiday.

If you have a suspended possession order

  • Taking a payment holiday may mean that you've breached the suspended order.
  • Ask your lender for confirmation in writing that they won't apply for bailiffs to evict you because of the breach. Get advice if they refuse.