The Coronavirus pandemic certainly caught the world unprepared and forced us into a lockdown, the prospect of the world returning to normal is still a long way off. This means that many people are still having to work from home and those who can’t, are relying on Government support to cover mortgages and bills. But what about those in the rental sector? What support is available to them?
More than a fifth of UK households live in privately rented accommodation and many are likely to see their incomes hit particularly hard if they have to take an extended time off work due to illness, school closures or other caring responsibilities. What are the main issues and the current Government intervention on them?
The Government has announced a series of measures designed to help renters and ensure that they cannot be made homeless without good cause. The package of measures started with the assertion that, from 28th March 2020, landlords would have to give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession of a property, giving the tenant some breathing room. The court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action, which means that neither cases currently in the system or any about to go in to it can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. The 90-day suspension period can also be extended if necessary.
If you cannot pay your rent and are facing the prospect of eviction, the Government has issued specific guidelines to help. These can be found here.
If you’re already in receipt of benefits, you will continue to be paid these, and if your Universal Credit includes an amount for your housing costs it’s important that you use this income to continue to pay your rent as you normally would.
If you’ve been employed and have been paying rental out of your income things may have changed because of COVID-19, and your income may now be reduced or completely removed. If your employment has been reduced or even come to an end as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and this means you’re struggling to pay your rent, the Government have promised to work with you to agree on a plan that can help you through this difficult period until you either receive your benefit entitlements in the form of Universal Credit, or you are back in work and earning again.
In order to determine how much you are likely to be paid in Universal credit, you should put your details into the appropriate benefits calculators supplied by the Government.
The rules also apply to those who are self-employed. The self-employed have been to apply for the new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which has been available since March 28th by completing the NSESAF1 form.
Of all the areas of society, renters who have lost their jobs are perhaps the most unsure of their position, but the Government has promised to help and have moved to assure them that, for the moment, they are not in danger of losing the roof over their heads.