A range of new measures and regulations have recently been introduced to the private rented sector, designed to protect renters and prevent people losing their home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is important that you feel supported during these difficult times and know where to turn to for help. We've put together the following frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you understand the new measures.
Do I still need to pay my rent during the pandemic?
Yes. There is no ‘rent holiday’ during this period, and you should continue to pay the rent in full wherever possible and abide by all the other terms of your tenancy during the COVID-19 outbreak to the best of your ability.
It is important to always prioritise rent payments, and to pay as much as you are able to afford. This may involve looking at your current expenditure and reducing any payments for non-essential items.
I’m going to struggle making the rent. What can I do?
You should speak with your landlord as soon as possible. Be open and honest about your financial difficulties and see if you can negotiate an alternative payment arrangement e.g. your landlord may accept a reduced payment and/or agree to any arrears being paid off at a later date.
If your financial difficulties are due to a change in employment or earnings, you may qualify for Universal Credit or other forms of support to meet your housing costs. You can:
You can also access further advice and support by visiting:
Can my landlord still evict me?
Increased protections are now in place to ensure that you will not lose your home during this period. If your landlord wants to start possession proceedings, they must first serve you with 3 months’ notice. This requirement is in force until 30th September 2020 but may be extended further.
At the end of this 3-month notice period, a landlord cannot force a tenant to leave their home without a court order (which they will need to apply for). However, all court proceedings for evictions have been halted until 23rd August 2020. This means that even if you have already received a notice from your landlord, they cannot proceed with an eviction until this suspension has been lifted.
The same protection also applies to mortgage repossessions, meaning no cases can be brought by mortgage companies against homeowners until 23rd August 2020.
Can I be evicted as soon as the bans are lifted?
The government have announced that pre-action protocols will be introduced when the current restrictions are lifted, meaning that your landlord will have a duty to contact you, discuss your situation and try to agree an affordable repayment plan (of any arrears), before they are able to resort to any eviction action. Further details on this are to be announced.
Existing laws protect you against an illegal eviction. Your landlord cannot force you from your home but must follow all the correct legal procedures to regain possession. In most cases this includes serving notice and applying to court for possession.
The measures introduced by government should protect most tenants from eviction during these difficult times. Anyone still faced with homelessness should speak with us as soon as possible. The earlier you speak to us, the earlier we can help you. Our first priority will be to keep you in your existing home, wherever possible.
Will my landlord still carry out repairs?
Yes, your landlords’ repair obligations have not changed, and they should still ensure that your home is kept in good repair and free from hazards.
You should inform your landlord as soon as possible if you have a problem so they can take the appropriate action. Government guidance on working safely in people’s homes has now been published, setting out the circumstances in which landlords or contractors can safely visit properties to carry out inspections or repairs.
Do I need to provide access?
Yes, unless you are shielding or self-isolating you should allow landlords and trades people access to your home in order to carry out repair work or inspections. This includes:
- Routine inspections, including annual gas safety checks
- Essential and non-essential repairs and maintenance
- Planned maintenance activity inside and outside the home.
Services should be designed to allow a 2-meter distance to be maintained (wherever possible) and hygiene procedures should be followed.
However, if you are self-isolating or shielding, no repair work should be carried out in your home unless it is to remedy a direct risk that affects your safety or the safety of your household. In these essential cases, arrangements should be made to avoid any face-to-face contact and to ensure all government advice on social distancing and maintaining good hygiene is followed.
If you are self-isolating or shielding and your gas safety check is due, you should inform your landlord. The safety check can be delayed until after your isolation period has ended. If you are shielding, an inspection or repair should only go ahead if there is a direct gas safety risk posed. Your landlord will be best placed to decide whether an inspection is required.
I am due to move home. Can this still go ahead?
The government have now amended the regulations to make it clear that people who wish to move home can do so. Please be mindful that the process of finding and moving into a new home will be different as those involved will have to adapt practices and procedures to minimise the risk of spreading the virus as much as possible.
Moving home is not appropriate if you pose a direct risk of transmitting COVID-19. If you are clinically vulnerable or shielding, you should carefully consider your personal situation, and the circumstances of your move, before going ahead. You may wish to seek some medical advice.