1. Rent, mortgage payments and possession proceedings

1.1  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.
  • In many if not most cases, the COVID-19 outbreak will not affect tenants’ ability to pay rent. If your ability to pay will be affected, it’s important to have an early conversation with your landlord. Rent levels agreed in your tenancy agreement remain legally due and you should discuss with your landlord if you are in difficulty.

1.2  What can I do about rent arrears?

  • Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity.
  • As part of our national effort to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak it’s important that landlords offer support and understanding to tenants who may start to see their income fluctuate.
  • An early conversation between landlord and tenant can help both parties to agree a plan if tenants are struggling to pay their rent. This can include reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead accept a lower level of rent, or agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date. 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 (see Section 1.3) and/or the suspension of possession claims (see Section 2). •If a landlord and tenant agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date, it is important they both stick to this plan, and that tenants talk to their landlord immediately if they are unable to do so.
  • If a tenant is worried about being unable to pay their rent, or if landlords become aware of tenants who may be in difficulty, advice is available from specialist provider.
  • 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; we 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-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
  • If you are worried about being evicted and not having anywhere else to go, you should speak to your local authority.
  • 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.
  • The Coronavirus Act 2020 means that landlords who do issue notices seeking possession will not be able to progress any further before the expiry of the notice. All notices for both the private and social rented sector tenancies are for three months.
  • Regardless of this legislation, where tenants have difficulty paying rent over this period, we ask that landlords do not issue a notice seeking possession, particularly given that the tenant may be sick or facing other hardship due to COVID-19.
  • During the current period, the Lord Chief Justice has said that applications to suspend warrants of possession should be prioritised, and that judges dealing with any possession claim must have in mind the public health guidance and should not make an order that risks impacting on public health: https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-message-from-the-lord-chief-justice-to-judges-in-the-civil-and-family-courts/

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