You’ll be protected from eviction if struggling due to coronavirus
If you’ll struggle to pay rent during the coronavirus outbreak you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible to let them know your situation and work out a repayment plan. Government guidance is “encouraging tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme”.
We’ve seen this guidance be interpreted in different ways though. While some landlords are proactively contacting tenants and reassuring them that they can work out new repayment arrangements if they suffer financial hardship, others are playing hardball, and not offering to make any adjustments.
If you’re struggling, also check to see if you’re receiving all the financial help you’re entitled to, which may include the universal credit benefit. The Government announced on Friday 20 March that it’s increasing the housing allowance part of universal credit so that the local housing allowance would cover at least 30% of the lowest rents in your area.
Can I be evicted if I can’t pay my rent on time?
The Government has said landlords in England and Wales will need to give three months’ notice before starting eviction proceedings. It’s introduced emergency legislation for this, which passed through the House of Lords on Wednesday 25 March and should soon become law.
You’ll be expected to work with your landlord to establish an affordable repayment plan which takes your circumstances into account.
The Government has also said that existing rules for social landlords dealing with rent arrears will be extended to include private landlords too. This is to “support engagement” between landlords and tenants and help them solve disputes. It will ask landlords to be compassionate and allow tenants to stay in their homes wherever possible – while associations representing local government and housing associations have already said that no social renter should be evicted due to coronavirus.
What’s more, private landlords are also now eligible for a three-month buy-to-let mortgage payment holiday if their tenants are experiencing financial difficulties. Technically they needn’t pass this on to their tenants, but morally they should and most will, so speak to your landlord if you need help.