Information for landlords and tenants in private rented accommodation

Here’s some useful housing advice and information for landlords and tenants in private rented accommodation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) period.

The UK Government has produced a non-statutory guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities in the private and social rented sectors in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Are you worried about being evicted?

Can my landlord evict me straight away because of coronavirus?

Your landlord must follow the proper steps to evict you. It's illegal for your landlord to evict you without following those steps.

An illegal eviction is a criminal offence - coronavirus doesn't change this.

It's likely to be an illegal eviction if your landlord:

  • makes you leave without notice or a court order
  • locks you out of your home, even temporarily

If you are worried that your landlord is trying to illegally evict you, you can contact Salford City Council on 0161 793 2020 or email salfordpropertylink@salford.gov.uk

What if I'm a lodger?

Even if you live with your landlord, they still need to follow the correct process to evict you.  They don't need to go to court but you're usually entitled to reasonable notice before you can be made to leave.

What do the new coronavirus rules on eviction mean?

The new rules do two things:

  • extend the notice period for evictions
  • suspend eviction court action

All court proceedings for eviction are on hold until at least 25 June 2020, regardless of when your landlord applied to court.

This means most tenants can’t be evicted before the end of June at the earliest. You should stay in your home if your landlord gives you notice or asks you to leave.

How long is the new notice period?

Most tenants will get 3 months' notice before their landlord can apply to court. This applies if you get notice on or after 26 March 2020.

This includes:

  • private tenants who get a section 21 or a section 8
  • secure, introductory and flexible council tenants
  • housing association tenants
  • regulated tenants

What if I had notice from my landlord before 26 March?

You should stay in your home. You don’t have to leave at the end of your notice.

It is your legal right to stay until your landlord gets a court order and a bailiff's warrant. They can't do this at the moment because court action for eviction is on hold.

Problems with paying your rent?

Can tenants stop paying rent because of the coronavirus outbreak?

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

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. They will still have to make up missed payments later.

I'm worried about rent arrears. What should I do?

Speak to your landlord if you're struggling to pay rent.

They could be sympathetic especially if you've lost your job or your income has suddenly reduced. 

They might agree to a rent reduction or to accept rent late. Get any agreement in writing.

Can my private landlord increase my rent during the outbreak?

Your landlord can only increase your rent if they follow the correct procedure.

Benefits and other financial help

I need to claim benefits. Where do I start?

Benefit Calculators. You can use an independent benefits calculator to find out what benefits you could be entitled to, how to claim benefits and how your current benefits will be affected if you start work. These services are free to use, anonymous and have replaced the benefits adviser service. 

Salford City Council’s Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service can help you work out what benefits and tax credits you are entitled to, assist with claim forms, and argue your case at an appeal if you disagree with a decision. If you have debt problems, we can help you draw up financial statements, negotiate with your creditors and represent you in court.

Universal Credit. Universal credit replaces six key benefits - Housing Benefit, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. Find out whether you are eligible to claim universal credit or to apply online.

There are complex rules for couples where one is over pensionable age and for anyone who is entitled to a Severe Disability Premium. You may wish to seek guidance from Salford City Council’s welfare rights team prior to submitting a Universal Credit application.

Citizens Advice can also assist you with submitting a claim.

How much housing benefit can I claim?

Housing benefit for private rented properties is called Local Housing Allowance (LHA). The amount you can claim varies depending on your household make up. You can find the current LHA rates online.

What if I already get tax credits or benefits but my income has dropped because of coronavirus?

If you have a change of circumstances, you need to inform the relevant organisation directly. You may need to inform more than one:

Universal Credit – access your online account or telephone 0800 328 5644. Textphone: 0800 328 1344.

Pension Credit information on GOV.UK - service helpline 0800 731 0469. Textphone: 0800 169 0133.

Disability Benefits information on GOV.UK – telephone 0800 121 4433. Textphone: 0800 121 4493.

Child Benefit information on GOV.UK – telephone 0300 200 3100 or go to the GOV.UK website.

Any other benefit - contact JobCentrePlus, telephone 0800 169 0310. Textphone: 0800 169 0314 or go to the GOV.UK website.

Please ensure you have your National Insurance Number and all the relevant details of your change of circumstances when you contact any of the above agencies.

I get some housing benefit but now I've lost my job. How can I pay my rent?

If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit and you have had a change in circumstances you may need to claim Universal Credit.

If your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing element does not cover your full rent and you are struggling to pay the difference, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Do I still have to pay Council Tax?

Council Tax payments are still due, although if you have had a reduction in your income you may be able to claim Council Tax Reduction. If you have made a claim for Universal Credit, you will still need to make a separate claim for Council Tax reduction. If you are struggling to pay and want to request a reduction in your payment arrangement, this can be requested online and you may want to contact the Salford Debt Advice Line for further advice if you cannot reach an agreement. Telephone 0800 345 7375, Monday to Friday between 10am and 12pm.

Can I get help with food and energy bills?

Salford Assist is a Salford City Council scheme that can offer short term support to people who are in a crisis, emergency or major disaster situation. These situations can mean that you are unable to meet the basic needs of yourself or your family. If you require emergency assistance with food, fuel, medication or pets please ring 0800 952 1000 or go to the Salford Assist page.

Homelessness

What help can I get if I'm homeless?

It’s important to get help as soon as you know you have a housing problem. Salford Housing Options Point (SHOP) can help prevent you losing your home. If you are homeless, are threatened with homelessness or you are just looking for some housing advice contact 0161 793 2020 or email housing.advicecentre@salford.gov.uk

You will be asked questions about your current housing situation. This is important as it will allow the team to provide you with tailored advice relevant to your circumstances. If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, this will trigger a homelessness assessment, under the homelessness legislation.

Customers who are assessed under the homelessness legislation as having a priority need, and have no accommodation available to them that evening, may be offered emergency accommodation. This could be a hostel or bed-and-breakfast accommodation.

If you are not eligible for homelessness emergency accommodation, SHOP may refer you to A Bed Every Night (ABEN). ABEN provides a bed and personal support for anyone who is sleeping rough or at imminent risk of sleeping rough in Greater Manchester.

Domestic abuse – what can I do?

If you are being abused and would like help to leave your private rented property, we will help you find a place of safety. Contact SHOP as soon as it is safe to do so on 0161 793 2020 or email housing.advicecentre@salford.gov.uk

If you don’t want housing assistance but would find it useful to talk to someone about what has happened, even if you do not want to do anything about it, there is a list of support services available.

What if I need to move home during the lockdown period?

The government's stay at home guidance makes it clear that people should stay in their homes for the next three weeks except in very limited circumstances.

Additional guidance on moving home during the coronavirus outbreak says that homeowners and renters should follow public health advice and delay the move where possible.

If you're renting privately and planned to move during this time, you'll probably need to:

  • postpone the move
  • negotiate with both your old and new landlord regarding the start and end dates of both tenancies

For example, if you've already signed a tenancy agreement, you could negotiate a new start date so you don't have to start paying rent before you can move.

Your current tenancy will usually continue as a periodic tenancy if your fixed term contract ends as long as you still live there.

Landlords, agents and tenants will need to work together and show goodwill in order to comply with the public health guidance over the coming weeks.

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.

Landlord access to your home

Can my letting agent or landlord still go ahead with visits and inspections?

Your agent or landlord should postpone all non-essential visits such as:

  • routine tenancy inspections
  • viewings towards the end of your tenancy

Tell your agent you can't allow access to your home at the moment because of government coronavirus guidance.

What if I need repairs or a gas safety check is due?

Landlords have the same responsibilities for repairs during the coronavirus outbreak.

You should report repairs to your landlord or managing agent by phone, email or online.

They might not be able to get the problem fixed during the usual timescales but shouldn't delay repairs unreasonably. Where a landlord fails to take appropriate action to deal with disrepair, you can make an online complaint to Salford City Council.

Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement. Your landlord should rearrange any gas safety checks if they cannot go ahead safely. Guidance is available for tenants and landlord from the Gas Safe Register.

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