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Coronavirus - if you have problems with your rented home

This advice applies to England

If you’re having problems with your rented home because of coronavirus, there are things you can do to keep yourself and others safe. 

If your rental property needs repairs

Your landlord can arrange for repairs to be done as long as no one in your home is ‘shielding’ or ‘self-isolating’. It might take longer than usual because whoever does the repairs will need to follow the rules around social distancing.

You can find out more about repairs in rented housing.

If someone in your home is shielding or self-isolating

You should only get repairs done that affect the health and safety of your household, for example a broken boiler, if:

You’ll need to put extra safety measures in place, like cleaning the area before and after the repair is done. You should avoid any face to face contact with anyone who comes into your home.

If you can’t pay your rent

You may be entitled to benefits to help with housing costs if your income has reduced, even if you’re still working.  

You should explain the situation to your landlord straight away - they might give you more time to pay, or agree to reduce your rent. 

You still need to pay your rent. If you’ve fallen behind with your rent you should start dealing with rent arrears. You can also check if you can get extra financial help

If your landlord doesn’t offer to be flexible with your rent payments, it’s a good idea to pay as much as you can afford and keep a record of what you discussed. 

You should also contact your nearest Citizens Advice - an adviser can help you explain things to your landlord. 

If rent arrears were taken off your benefit payments

The DWP has temporarily stopped taking money off your benefit payments to cover rent arrears. This means your arrears won’t have been paid to your landlord.

If you’ve been to court and have a suspended possession order, contact your landlord to arrange how you can pay them. If you don’t then your landlord could take action to evict you when the current restrictions are lifted.

If you rent from a private landlord

You can find out more about dealing with rent arrears.

If you rent from a council or housing association

Find out what to do if you can’t afford to pay rent for your council home

If you normally have to leave the house to pay your rent

Ask your landlord if you can pay your rent in a different way, such as a card payment over the phone or an online transfer. You can also contact your bank for advice about different ways to pay. Don’t send cash through the post.

If you’re worried about being evicted

The government has made a temporary change to the law around eviction because of coronavirus. Your landlord might have to give you extra notice before they can evict you. 

If your landlord gives you an eviction notice on or after 26 March 2020, the notice has to be increased to 3 months for these tenancy types:

  • assured, assured shorthold and starter tenancies - you’re likely to have this if you rent from a private landlord or housing association 
  • secure, introductory and flexible tenancies -  you’re likely to have this if you rent from the local council
  • protected tenancy - you’re likely to have this if you started renting from a private landlord before 15 January 1989
  • demoted tenancy - you may have this if you rent from your local council or from a housing association

If you rent from a private landlord, your tenancy depends on the rental agreement you have. You can check your tenancy type.

If you rent a room in your landlord’s home

If you’re renting a room in your landlord’s home, your landlord can ask you to leave - they won’t have to go to court to evict you. 

They have to give you notice but it doesn’t need to be in writing - it should be for a reasonable period of time. 

If you don’t leave at the end of your notice, they can evict you as long as they don’t use force. For example, they can change the locks while you’re out but they must look after your belongings and let you have them back. 

If they use force, you should go to the police. This is a criminal offence.

You can check what rights you have as a lodger.

If you didn’t leave by the date on your notice and your landlord has gone to court

The court service has postponed all eviction processes for 3 months from 27 March 2020. 

If your landlord started court action to evict you, this will be suspended and you won’t have to leave your home yet.

If the court process was completed before 27 March 2020 and you’ve already been sent an N54 Notice of Eviction form, the eviction might go ahead. You can contact the bailiff to check - their details will be on the notice. If you need help to delay or stop your eviction, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

You can also find out more about the support available to renters because of coronavirus on GOV.UK.

If your landlord wants you to let people in to view the property

Your landlord can’t force you to let people into your home for viewings. 

They might ask because they’re selling the property or looking for new tenants – ask them if you’re not sure. The government says landlords shouldn’t look for new tenants unless you’ve told them you want to move out.

Tell your landlord if you don’t want people to come to your home – for example if you or someone you live with:

  • is vulnerable or worried about getting coronavirus
  • might already have coronavirus

Your landlord can go to the court if you refuse to let people in for a viewing and your tenancy agreement says you have to. It’s unusual for the court to make you let people into your home.

Your landlord might ask you to help them sell the property or find new tenants in other ways, for example by filming a video of the property. It’s your choice whether to agree.

If you agree to let people view your home

It’s best to:

  • leave the inside doors open so people don’t have to touch them
  • leave your home during the viewing
  • clean any surfaces people might have touched after the viewing and wash your hands with soap

If you need to leave your accommodation

The government has said you should delay moving home, where possible, because of coronavirus.

If you live in shared housing and are worried about your health

If you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus there are things you can do - read how to keep each other safe on GOV.UK. 

If you’re extremely vulnerable because of a medical condition, you might have been told to ‘shield’ yourself. You can read about how to live safely with other people on GOV.UK. 

If your shared housing makes it impossible for you to shield yourself, it’s likely to be considered unsafe for you to stay there. This is known as being ‘unreasonable to continue to occupy’. You can ask your local council for help finding somewhere else to live. That means you’ll need to make a homeless application

If your council doesn’t offer suitable alternative accommodation, you should contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Leaving before your contract ends

You’ll need to negotiate with your landlord if you want to leave before your contract ends. You might want to leave a rented property before the end of your contract, for example, if you’re a student and your university has closed.

You can try to negotiate with your landlord. They don’t have to release you from your contract but you could ask if they’d agree to reduce your rent.

If you’re living with other people

If you live with other people, it’s important everyone keeps paying their rent. It’s likely you have a joint tenancy - check your contract if you have one. This means if one person stops paying their rent everyone else might have to pay. That includes anyone who signed a contract as a guarantor.

If your landlord forces you to leave your home

If your landlord is required to get a court order to evict you and hasn’t but still makes you leave, this is likely to be an ‘illegal eviction’.  

It will be an illegal  eviction if they make you leave by:

  • changing the locks
  • stopping you using part of your home
  • threatening or physically harassing you to leave
  • turning off the water or energy supply

If this happens you should report it to the police.

You should also contact your local council. They might have a Tenancy Relations Officer who can try to talk to your landlord or take action to get you back into the property. They might be able to help you find emergency accommodation if you need it.

You can also take legal action to get back into your home. Although a lot of courts are closed, it will be considered an emergency. If you’re going to take legal action against your landlord, it’s best to contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you become homeless

You can ask your local council for help if you’re homeless or you can’t carry on living in your home because of coronavirus - check if you can apply for homeless help

You can also see what you can do if you have nowhere to stay tonight.

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