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 at least 25th June 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 during this 90-day period.
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. The following urgent health and safety issues should still be attended to:
- A problem with the fabric of the building e.g. a leaking roof
- A broken boiler, leaving the tenant without heating and/or hot water
- A plumbing issue, affecting washing or toilet facilities
- Faulty white goods (such as the washing machine or fridge), meaning clothes cannot be washed or food stored safely
- A security risk, such as a broken or insecure window or external door
- Equipment relied upon by a disabled person requiring installation or repair.
Arrangements can be made between you and your landlord for any non-urgent repairs to be done at a later date.
Do I need to provide access?
Yes, you should provide access for urgent health and safety repairs and safety checks, such as the annual gas safety check, providing it is safe and reasonable to do so.
You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to carry out repairs. It is strongly advised to remain in separate rooms during any visits and follow government advice on hygiene and cleanliness before, during and after visits.
I am due to move home. Can this still go ahead?
Whilst emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus you should, wherever possible, delay moving to a new home. Speak with your current landlord (and new) to see if you can reach an agreement to delay ending, or starting, contracts.
Where moving is unavoidable, you must adhere to the guidelines concerning strict separation to minimise the spread of the virus.