Confused about your position as a UK renter? Not sure what the advice is for living in a shared home? We bring you the latest advice from the government.
- What is current government advice?
Stay at home
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you go out (2 meters apart where possible)
- Wash your hands regularly
Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
See the government web site for updates: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
- What are your rights as a renter?
- On March 26th the government passed a piece of legislation called the Coronavirus Act 2020. This affects both the private and social rental sector equally
- The Act will mean that, until 30th September 2020, most landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three-months’ notice. Landlords can choose to give more than this three months’ notice.
- This means that if you cannot pay your rent due to the Covid-19 outbreak, a landlord cannot ask you to leave the property immediately or if they do ask you to leave they must serve you a minimum of three months’ notice.
- At the expiry of the three-month notice, a landlord cannot force a tenant to leave their home without a court order.
As a tenant, should I stop paying rent during the outbreak?
- Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability.
- The government has a strong package of financial support available to tenants, and where they can pay the rent as normal, they should do.
- Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity. Good communication with your landlord will help you to find a resolution to the challenges you face, most landlords want to help.
What can I do about rent arrears/payment difficulties?
- The government is encouraging landlords not to seek a notice possession if there are rent payment difficulties in the current climate, particularly as the tenant may be sick of facing other hardships due to Covid-19.
- Having early conversations with your landlord is essential and can help both parties reach an agreement, for example, accepting a lower amount of rent during the period with an arrears payment plan in place to be paid later.
- If both parties agree a plan to pay off arrears later, it is important they both stick to this plan, and that tenants talk to their landlord immediately if they are unable to do so.
- Where a landlord does choose to serve notice seeking possession for rent arrears or has done so already, the notice period and any further action will be affected by legislation lengthening the notice period and/or the suspension of the possession claim.
- If you are worried about being unable to pay their rent, advice is available from specialist providers such Shelter, Citizens Advice and The Money Advice Service.
- Local authorities can provide support for tenants to stay in their homes. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to access new funding; the Government have already made £500m available to fund households experiencing financial hardship and are determined to take action to support people in need
- You can also find more information on Government support for employers and employees here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-toemployers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
- If you fall into financial difficulties due to a change in your employment or earnings, for example, you may qualify for Universal Credit. Property Guardian licence agreements are a valid tenancy arrangement for receiving housing costs support in Universal Credit. Find more information about Universal Credit at https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-universal-credit
- What to expect from your landlord?
- Your landlord should be committed to making sure your home is safe and a decent place to live.
- Landlords’ repair obligations have not changed.
- Where reasonable, safe for you and in line with other Government guidance, we recommend that you allow local authorities, landlords or contractors access to your property in order to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues.
- Urgent health and safety issues are those which will affect your ability to live safely and maintain your mental and physical health in your home. This could include (but is not limited to):
- If there is a problem with the fabric of your building, for example the roof is leaking
- If your boiler is broken, leaving you without heating or hot water
- If there is a plumbing issue, meaning you don’t have washing or toilet facilities
- If your white goods such as fridge or washing machine have broken, meaning you are unable to wash clothes or store food safely
- If there is a security-critical problem, such as a broken window or external door
- If equipment a disabled person relies on requires installation or repair
- You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to carry out repairs
- What should you do if you have symptoms in a shared home? If you think you have symptoms, then you should follow government advice:
- If you have one or both signs of coronavirus you should stay at home for 7 days. You should not meet up with other people.
- If someone else in the household has symptoms of the virus, all household members should self – isolate for 14 days.
- Wash your hands lots of times during the day, use soap and water.
- Always cough and sneeze into a tissue. Then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
- You should stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from them as much as you can.
- Use a different bathroom if possible and use different towels.
- Do not use the kitchen at the same time as other people.
- Clean regularly touched areas: door handles, handrails, remote controls, table tops several times a day. Use household cleaner (detergent).
- Use a dishwasher. If this is not possible, use a different tea towel to dry each person’s things.
- Do not shake dirty washing before putting it in the washing machine.
- Put rubbish such as tissues and disposable wiping cloths into rubbish bags that are tied shut. Then put these bags inside a second bag. You should wait 3 days before you put them outside for the rubbish collection.
- You should tell anyone you share the property with immediately, so that they can take appropriate action and make informed decisions regarding shared areas and access to the property.
- If your landlord needs to arrange a visit to the property for urgent health and safety reasons, you should also inform them and agree to take sensible precautions.
- Nobody can be removed from their home because of the virus.
- Landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if others in the property contract the virus.
- Other useful links: